Become Pain Free Now

Physical Therapy for Knee Bursitis – Information, Exercises, and More

You’re tired of dealing with pain caused by knee bursitis and want to explore all of your treatment options. 

Luckily, there are many ways to help ease your symptoms and aid in recovery, including physical therapy for knee bursitis.

In this guide, we will cover everything you need to know about knee bursitis and what type of treatment is right for you.

What is Knee Bursitis?

Near your knee joint, there are several small fluid-filled sacs called bursae. These sacs help reduce friction and pressure between your bones, muscles, tendons, and skin around your knee joints.

The inflammation of one or more bursae is referred to as knee bursitis. 

Knee bursitis most commonly occurs in two places: 

  1. Over the knee cap
  2. Below the knee joint on the inner side of your knee

Knee bursitis can be painful and limit the mobility of your knee. Medical care may be required to help reduce inflammation and restore mobility to the knee joint.

What Causes Knee Bursitis?

The cause of knee bursitis can vary. 

Studies show that there is a high concentration of knee bursitis in workers that are exposed to heavy workloads and frequent kneeling.

Other causes of knee bursitis include: 

  • A direct injury to the knee
  • Bacterial infections in bursae
  • Complications due to osteoarthritis, gout, or rheumatoid arthritis in the knee
  • Any form of activity that is strenuous to the knee joint

Knee Bursitis Symptoms

Symptoms of knee bursitis can be dependent on which bursa is inflamed and what is causing the inflammation. 

Typical symptoms of an inflamed bursa may include the affected area being:

  • Warm to the touch
  • Tender
  • Swollen

Your pain can increase with movement and pressure and can also be felt at rest. 

When knee bursitis is caused by overuse or strenuous activity like frequent kneeling on hard surfaces, symptoms typically come on gradually and worsen over time. 

If knee bursitis is the cause of a direct blow to the knee, symptoms will develop rapidly. 

If you are experiencing symptoms and develop a fever, consult with a doctor immediately, as you may be experiencing a bacterial infection in one or more of your bursa. 

Your doctor will also need to rule out other potential knee injuries.

Knee Bursitis Treatment

Treatment can vary depending on the severity of your knee bursitis.

Typically, medication and physical therapy for knee bursitis are the first line of treatment, while alternatives like surgery and other medical procedures may be recommended if your knee bursitis isn’t responding to conservative treatment.


Your doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory medication like naproxen to help reduce swelling and pain for short term use.

If you have knee bursitis due to a bacterial infection, your doctor will prescribe an antibiotic treatment to help your body fight off the infection. 

Physical Therapy For Knee Bursitis

Your doctor may prescribe physical therapy to help reduce your symptoms and strengthen the knee joint. 

In addition to physical therapy exercises for knee bursitis, your physical therapist may prescribe a protective knee brace or a compression sleeve to help reduce swelling.

Surgery And Other Medical Procedures

If medications and physical therapy are not helping with your knee bursitis, other — more invasive — procedures may be needed. 

Medical procedure for knee bursitis include: 

  • Steroid Injections. Your doctor may inject a corticosteroid drug into an affected bursa to help reduce pain and swelling. Typically, inflammation rapidly reduces after an injection, but you can still expect some pain and soreness after the injection for a couple of days.
  • Fine Needle Aspiration. To reduce excess fluid and inflammation, your doctor may aspirate the bursa by inserting a small needle and drawing out fluid. This can cause some short-term pain and swelling, and a temporary knee immobilizer may be prescribed for short-term use after aspiration.
  • Surgery. If you suffer from chronic or recurring knee bursitis that does not respond to other treatments, your doctor may recommend removing the affected bursa.

Knee Bursitis Physical Therapy – Will PT Help?

The answer is, absolutely. 

Physical therapy for bursitis in the knee has many benefits, including: 

  • Pain relief
  • Improved flexibility
  • Strengthened muscles
  • Reduction in risk of recurring episodes

Best Physical Therapy Exercises For Knee Bursitis

Below, we will discuss some commonly prescribed physical therapy exercises for knee bursitis. 

It is important to always consult with a Doctor of Physical Therapy before attempting any exercises.

Seated Hamstring Stretch

  1. The seated hamstring stretch involves sitting at the edge of a chair, with the leg you want to stretch positioned straight. 
  2. Keeping the leg straight, lean forward, and shift your weight until you feel a stretch in the back of your leg. 
  3. Hold this exercise for 30-60 seconds at a time for about 2-3 times a day.

Calf Stretch

  1. Stretch your legs out in front of you while sitting on the floor. 
  2. Slip a belt or stretching strap behind the ball of your foot and hold securely with both hands. 
  3. Pull your toes back towards your shin until you feel a stretch in the back of the calf. 
  4. Hold this exercise for 20-30 seconds at a time for up to 5 sets on each leg.

Prayer Stretch

This exercise helps tremendously with knee flexibility.

  1. Position yourself on all fours on the ground.
  2. Sit back onto your feet, bending the knees and pulling your chest towards your thighs.
  3. Keeping your arms outstretched in front of you, relax into the stretch.
  4. Hold this exercise for 60 seconds at a time for 2-3 sets.

How In Motion O.C. Can Help With Knee Bursitis

If you are tired of dealing with pain caused by knee bursitis, physical therapy may be the answer to helping you get on the road to recovery.

As the #1 rated physical therapy clinic on Yelp! and Google, In Motion O.C. has helped hundreds of people like you recover from knee bursitis.

Let us help you get back to doing the activities you love, pain-free.

*This information about physical therapy for knee bursitis was reviewed by Dr Natalie Thomas, PT, DPT. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us here.

In Motion O.C.