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Knee Exercises for Bursitis

Learn the knee exercises you should do to relieve the symptoms of bursitis in this Howcast video about physical therapy for knees.


Bursitis is a very common problem we have in the clinic, and it really is referring to an inflammation of the bursa, and what the bursa is, is these almost like fat pads right along the joint line and right inside the joint of all your joints, not just your knees. They are there for lubrication. They are there for shock absorption, and they really provide some support to the knee outside of just the cartilage and the ligaments that might be around the knee as well.

But like those other tissues, they do get inflamed, irritated. They can dry up and get hot with all the same reasons, either an overuse problem at that joint where we're doing too much activity on a weakened area or just the right amount of activity but on a poorly efficient joint or a poorly efficient hip and knee complex. So there's an overuse syndrome going on. Just like your other overuse injuries, you're going to want to rest it and use anti-inflammatories as needed in the beginning. But eventually, you're going to move on to some exercises for that knee.

The best ones to do in the beginning are going to be your isometric exercises, just lying on the floor, trying to contract your quadriceps and trying to contract your hamstring muscle without creating any joint movement. That's the nature of an isometric exercise. It's contraction without joint movement.

That would then be followed by some movement, obviously, of the joints, some heel slides on the floor, maybe where you're bending and straightening out your knee, and that can then be progressed to something where you're sitting, doing leg extensions exercises and leg curls.

And then lastly, like a lot of your other inflammation problems, you're going to want to get patients up and doing some functional activities like squats and lunges and split squats. There's an order there. So you want to make sure you're following it, and the big thing in the beginning is making sure that you're resting it properly.

If you're really concerned and you're really not sure why you're getting the bursitis, whether it's from the alignment issue or the flexibility issue or a weakness issue, it might be good to seek out a doctor or a physical therapist first. It seems like an easy one to fix, but it might be tricky. At physical therapy all offices you have the option of learning some advice about why this is occurring to help prevent it from happening again, but also the added use of modalities in the clinic, such as an ultrasound treatment, an electrical stimulation treatment, or even an ultrasound treatment with the use of a hydrocortisone cream that can also help with the inflammation problem.

So there's a number of options, both in the clinic or at home, but by and large it's an overuse injury that's very common and very, very treatable.

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