As a knee surgeon, I am often asked about pain in the knee, in the last we covered overuse injuries, and now we shall look at lumps and bumps.
Recently on a ride a friend wanted me to look at their knee as without any trauma, they had noticed a lump on the front of it. The image shows a lump over the kneecap or patella.
There are ‘bursa’s’ or fluid sacs over the knee, the elbow and the hip. They allow the skin to move easily over the bony prominences. This one is called pre-patella bursitis. It is common and completely benign. However some lumps are not so insignificant and should always be assessed by a health professional. Other examples include pretibial bursitis. Common names are housemaids knee, or priest’s knee.
It turns out that my friend was also laying some carpeting, and the combination of kneeling and cycling made the lump flare up. Treatment is to avoid the kneeling, reduce the cycling and wait. Many go of their own accord. Others may require aspiration (fluid removal with a needle and syringe) and some require surgical excision.
Fluid lumps like this do some cool things. You can light them up with a torch (trans-illumination) to make them look like a ‘light bulb’ on the knee. They can also frighten the children!
A bursitis like this is not dangerous, but it can be awkward and cosmetically offensive. Our sports physicians can help you diagnose them, and if necessary remove the fluid and inject with a small amount of hydrocortisone to help them go away. We can always remove them surgically if they are particularly resistant to treatment!