Housemaid's Knee

Housemaid's knee is a condition where there is an inflammation along the pocket of tissue which covers the kneecap; this inflammation usually develops as a result of kneeling for long periods of time and can also be caused by some hard physical blow to the knees. The kneecaps swell up and become red and extremely painful as the tissue pocket covering the knee fills up with fluid. This swelling of the knee is the first symptom of the condition.

Housemaid's knee may afflict people of any age and gender. However, compared to women, this medical condition is more widespread among men. When children are afflicted by housemaid's knee, it is generally owing to some type of infection. Apart from any hard physical blow to the knees and kneeling down for prolonged periods, this medical condition may occur even due to infections.

People who have a feeble immune system or those, whose immune system is not working as it should, usually develop housemaid's knee due to some kind of infection. Such people comprise individuals who are receiving steroid therapy or those undertaking chemotherapy for any form of cancer.

It has been found that housemaid's knee is quite widespread among tradesmen or skilled workers who have to kneel for prolonged period owing to the nature of their work. For instance, concrete finishers, carpet fitters and roofers are people who are generally found to suffer from this medical condition.

Typically, you doctor can diagnose housemaid's knee just by observing your knee. While checking your knee, the doctor may enquire about your profession or if you have ever sustained any knee injury. In addition, you may also be asked if you have a history of any other problems of the joints.

In case your doctor believes that you have developed housemaid's knee owing to some kind of infection, he/ she may recommend that they extract some fluid from the swollen area around the kneecap (bursa) and send it for laboratory examination. This is a very simple process. The skin on the front part of your knee is sterilized using some fluid and the process is undertaken in a hygienic setting.

The doctor will use a small needle to draw the fluid from your prepatellar bursa, which is located right under the skin in the front part of the kneecap. Subsequently, the extracted fluid is sent to a laboratory for examination and to ascertain if there are any indications of infection. In the even of the infection being established, the laboratory may recommend the precise antibiotics that you need to take to cure the medical condition.

It may be noted that no X-ray or scans are required to diagnose housemaid's knee.

By avoiding kneeling for prolonged periods at a stretch you will be able to keep off housemaid's knee. In addition, avoiding activities that result in frequent friction between the skin and the kneecap will also help you to avoid developing this medical condition. It may be noted that though easier said, it is actually difficult to avoid kneeling or undertaking activities that cause frequent friction between the skin and kneecap in some professions and such recurring knee problem is one reason why many people change their professions.

In case it is not possible to avoid kneeling or even change your profession, you ought to at least wear padded knee supports or find out a different way of executing your job, for instance sitting on a small stool and working rather than kneeling all the time.

Supplements and herbs

The painful sensations can be eased down using a poultice made from the comfrey herb. This herbal preparation can be made by using a handful of fresh or dried comfrey leaves boiled using some water on an open saucepan. Once the leaves have been boiled, they can be removed from the source of heat, and placed between two pieces of gauze.

Place this poultice on the knee after allowing the herbal remedy to cool down slightly, by exposing it to open air. Ideally, the gauze covering must be hot when it is applied, it should not be so hot as to burn the tissues. The warmth in the compress can be maintained by using a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel and placing this directly on the knee over the cooled poultice.


Apply Ruta graveolens 6c cream locally, thrice daily, for up to a week.

Additional things you may do

The best treatment for extreme pain in the knees is constant relaxation and rest - as soon as the pain becomes extreme in the knees, you must immediately rest preferably in bed. Do not kneel or place any strain on the knees and try to keep the legs elevated as much as possible, and at all times. Toxins are eliminated by the use of hot and cold treatments; such treatments also increase the circulation of blood into the area, and result in bringing relief from inflammation and pain.

Use a kitchen towel to make a cold pack of frozen peas or use an ice pack by wrapping a plastic bag full of ice cubes - these packs must be applied as a direct topical remedy on the affected knee. You can also try using a hot water bottle as direct topical remedy; wrap a towel around the hot water bottle when applying it to the knees.

The hot and cold treatment should ideally be carried out in this way, first, apply the ice pack on the affected knee for ten minutes continuously, this session must be followed by the application of the hot water bottle for the next ten minutes. The treatment must be alternated several times to bring full and total relief from the painful symptoms.

This hot and cold treatment must be performed each morning and every night as long as necessary. Another great treatment methodology is to ask an expert and experienced professional masseur to massage the affected muscles lying just above and below the affected joint of the knee - regular massages to the area will encourage the circulation of blood in the area and lead to the elimination of toxins which have accumulated in that region of the body.

In addition to using allopathic medications, herbs and supplements and applying hot and cold treatment, there are some other things that you may do to avoid housemaid's knee. For instance, individuals enduring a persistent condition of housemaid's knee ought to keep away from kneeling, or else if probable, wear padded knee supports. In case the bursa has been infected, your doctor might prescribe antibiotics to treat the condition.

On the other hand, if the swelling around the kneecap continues, the doctor may extract some fluid from the bursa, despite the fact that it may increase the hazards of further infection. Although the doctor may inject hydrocortisone into the affected knee, it has been found that this procedure does now work well in all cases. People who are suffering from very acute cases of housemaid's knee may have to get their bursa removed through surgery.

It may be mentioned here that some researches have been undertaken on employing herbs to cure cases of bursitis. There are a number of anti-inflammatory herbs, such as turmeric, boswellia, topical cayenne ointment and willow ointment, which may be effective in curing housemaid's knee.

If you are enduring housemaid's knee and your symptoms are still mild, they may be treated by taking ample rest, raising your affected limb, applying ice and by taking pain relieving medicines.

Rest is the best remedy to cure the symptoms of housemaid's knee and, hence, it is essential that you stop your work or activities for some time and relax for some time.

Elevation of affected limb
In order to lessen the swelling around the bursa, it is advisable that you raise the affected limb a little on top of the level of your heart.

Applying ice
It is advisable that you apply an ice pack for about 20 minutes each time, once in every three to four hours daily, for the initial few days of developing housemaid's knee or till the swelling around the bursa subsides completely. While applying the ice pack, bear in mind to cover the ice pack with a towel and also prevent applying the pack for over 20 minutes at a stretch. In case you allow the ice pack to stand for more than 20 minutes, there is a risk of a frostbite injury. Applying an ice pack on the affected part will not only help in minimizing the swelling, but also alleviate the pain.

In case the swelling of the bursa is acute, it is likely that your doctor will decide to get rid of some fluid from the affected area. Other means of treatment that help in alleviating the symptoms of housemaid's knee may comprise physical therapy and bandaging the affected area. If the condition turns out to be extremely serious, you may require a surgery to remove the bursa.


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