Housemaid’s knee is a painful condition, and it’s not one that’s restricted to housemaids! In this guide, we will look at what causes this condition, symptoms to look out for and provide some options for treatment.

Don’t forget, though, that this is no alternative to professional medical advice. Always speak to your doctor if you have health concerns. 

The Anatomy of Housemaids Knee

No matter whether you’re in the process of agreeing on a settlement for a knee injury or if the problem has been caused by gardening in your home, it’s important to understand exactly what causes this condition.

Meralgia Paraesthetica, the medical term for Housemaids Knee, is a condition that affects the knee’s soft tissues. Sitting on the front of the knee is the prepatellar bursa, a small fluid-filled sac that sits under the skin just in front of the kneecap. When the prepatellar bursa becomes swollen and painful, that’s when Housemaid’s knee can be an outcome.  

There are over 100 bursae in the human body, and they’re positioned wherever there are two structures that slide over each other. This then increases the potential for friction problems, and the bursa prevents that from happening.

The Two Types of Housemaids Knee

Septic Bursitis

Septic Bursitis happens when the bursa becomes infected and then swells. Thankfully, this type of bursitis is pretty rare, but if it occurs, it will need medical assistance.

If the bursa is red and hot as well as painful and swollen then you should get straight to your GP as it’s likely that you’re going to need a course of antibiotics.

Aseptic Bursitis

This is when the bursa is swollen and painful, but there’s no infection. This is the most common type of Housemaids Knee. 

Who Is Likely to Get Housemaids Knee?

If you’re wondering if you’re in a high-risk category, here are the most likely candidates to suffer from this painful condition.

  • Sex – 80% of all bursitis patients are reported to be male.
  • Age – bursitis can occur at any age, but it tends to be most common when people are aged between forty and sixty.
  • Pre-existing conditions – If you already have an inflammatory disease such as rheumatoid arthritis or gout, there’s an increased risk of developing bursitis.
  • If you’re receiving steroid or chemotherapy treatment.
  • Following a fall that resulted in an impact on the bursa

Symptoms of Housemaids Knee

With the swelling caused by prepatellar bursitis, you will notice the skin over the knee becoming red along with tenderness in the kneecap area. This means that you might have problems bending your knee, which makes walking and kneeling difficult.  

If an infection is present, then you might also have a high temperature. 

How is Housemaids Knee Diagnosed?

Your doctor can usually diagnose the condition by taking a look at your knee. They may ask questions about your occupation or if there have been any recent injuries to the knee area.

If there is a risk of an infection, they may suggest drawing some fluid from the bursa that the lab can then check for any problems. 

Treatment of Housemaids Knee

Most mild cases of Housemaid’s knee don’t need medical assistance and can be treated at home. Anti-inflammatory drugs such as Ibuprofen, Nurofen, or Aspirin can be helpful when taken two to three times a day over the period of a week.  

Ice packs held on the knee can also be helpful to reduce swelling. A bag of frozen peas wrapped in a tea towel makes for a great ice pack!

However, if symptoms do not start to subside, then you should make an appointment with your doctor to look at other treatment options that could include physiotherapy, steroid injections, or on rare occasions, surgery.  

Can Housemaids Knee be Prevented?

Not all cases of the condition can be prevented, but if you have a job or hobby that needs you to be kneeling for long periods, then the following preventative steps can be taken –

  • Use thick foam cushions or pads to protect your knees
  • Take frequent breaks to move around
  • Apply ice and elevate your legs if kneeling for an extended period has been unavoidable