Bursae Knee Pain: Inflamed & Ruptured Bursa Sac

Bursae Knee Pain: Inflamed & Ruptured Bursa Sac
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  • 0:00 Protecting the Joints
  • 0:29 Bursae Sacs and Knee Pain
  • 2:17 Inflammation and Ruptures
  • 3:24 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Joshua Bowles

Joshua is a Sports Medicine and Athletic Training Instructor and has a Master's degree in Kinesiology.

In this lesson, we will discuss the unique structure of the bursa and associated knee pain. Specifically, we will cover two conditions, inflamed and ruptured bursae sacs.

Protecting the Joints

With so many joints in the human body, it should come as no surprise that, at times, they can cause us pain and discomfort. Some of the joints that provide the greatest amount of movement are also the most susceptible to pain. These joints have protective coatings and fluid filled sacs that provide protection and support. In this lesson, we will discuss the bursae sacs and cover two specific conditions that can occur.

Bursae Sacs and Knee Pain

The bursae, plural for ''bursa,'' are fluid filled sacs that provides protection and cushioning for synovial joints. A synovial joint is one of three main types of joints in the body. They provide the most movement compared to the other two joint categories. There are six specific synovial joints types, including a hinge joint, such as our knees and elbows. Because these joints provide the most motion, they also need lubrication and protection, which is the purpose of bursae within synovial joints. Bursae sacs are filled with thick synovial fluid, a lubrication designed to reduce the amount of friction in joints. Think of this important fluid as the oil for your car engine. It provides the lubrication needed to keep all the moving parts in your body running smoothly. These bursae sacs are found in synovial joints where muscles and tendons connect to bone. Bursae create a smooth surface that allows connective tissue to glide over these high friction points.

There are bursae sacs located all around the knee joint. Five of them are located in the front, known as ''anterior'' in medical terminology. The most notable of these is the prepatellar bursa, found just above the patella, the kneecap. This bursa sac provides the most cushion and support for direct contact with the anterior knee area, as this tends to be the area impacted most by contact and friction.

Pain associated with the bursae usually occurs because joints have lost the smooth, gliding movement that healthy bursae provide. In the knee joint, the patella glides back and forth on the intercondylar notch, which is the groove in between the two large projections on the inside and outside of the thigh bone, known as the femoral condyles. Repetitive movement can cause inflammation, which will lead to more friction in the knee joint, causing pain.

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