Is a heating pad useful for a knee bursitis?

Patient

Q: I have fluid build up on my knee and would like to know if a heating pad would help with it

Doctor

A:    Yes, a heating pad is considered part of the conservative treatment for a prepatellar knee bursitis,most likely produced by a previous trauma. The prepatellar bursa is a superficial bursa with a thin synovial lining located between the skin and the patella. Normally, it does not communicate with the joint space and contains a minimal amount of fluid; however, inflammation of the prepatellar bursa results in marked increase of fluid within its space, like a “golf ball”. Apparently you had an uncomplicated knee injury that with conservative treatment has a great chance to improve, anyways if you notice one or more of the following symptoms: more inflammation, remarkable limitation on flexion-extension movements, locking of the knee, or instability, the next step would be an evaluation by an Orthopedic Surgeon. But if this is not the case, the suggested strategy would be: protection (avoid activities or movements that may produce pain, especially kneeling), local ice packs for periods no more than 15 minutes each time, and after, local hot compresses or heating pad, you could use anti-inflammatory medication (i.e.: “Aleve”, “Advil”). The healing time is different for each patient but generally there is a progressive improvement during the next 4-6 weeks after the injury.

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