Q. Last week, I was working in the yard and banged my left knee hard on the ground. It hurt for a few minutes and then the pain went away. The next morning, I noticed a large swelling on the front part of my knee about the size of an egg. My knee felt a little stiff but I had no pain. Since it does not hurt, I have just watched to see if the swelling goes away, but so far it has not changed in size. Do I need to see a doctor?
A: Between the skin and your kneecap sits a thin sac known as a bursa. When traumatized, the bursa may become filled with a fluid.
This condition is known as prepatellar bursitis. Usually the traumatized bursa remains small and gradually returns to its normal size. Occasionally, the traumatized bursa can become large — even approaching the size of a baseball.
Most times, there is no structural damage to the knee but this prepatellar bursitis can become cumbersome and unsightly. It is important not to puncture or scratch the skin around the swollen bursa as this can lead to an infection that requires surgical drainage and antibiotics.
I recommend you see an orthopedic surgeon to confirm the diagnosis. Treatment options may include observation, anti-inflammatory medication, or needle aspiration of the bursa fluid followed by a compressive bandage to prevent recurrence.
Dr. Harlan Selesnick is team physician of the Miami Heat and director of Miami Sports Medicine Fellowship, Doctors Hospital. Send your questions to HarlanS@baptisthealth.net