Another common name for prepatellar bursitis is “House maid’s knee”. In the knee there is a bursa which is fluid-filled sac that acts as a shock absorber between the tendon and bone. In the event of a hit or injury to the knee the bursa can become inflamed and then fill with fluid. It can also happen to people who kneel a lot like carpet layers and cleaners and even though it is painful, often the knee still has full range of movement. The knee can have severe swelling and inflammation.
There may also be fever associated with the knee swelling. The anti-inflammatory drug ibuprofen is commonly prescribed but has side effects. The fluid is sometimes forced out with needle aspiration.
Acupuncture can treat arthritis of the knee and many other knee injuries such as a meniscal tear. The treatment of prepatellar bursitis is also no exception and is commonly treated successfully by ACC accredited members of the Acupuncture NZ, which has over 600 members throughout New Zealand.
Even though the swelling associated with this problem is a normal healing response, the acupuncturist aims to reduce the swelling using local and distal acupuncture points.
Some acupuncture points may even be used on the other non-injured leg as well as on the abdomen. The acupuncture meridians flow over all aspects of the body including the knee.
In Chinese medicine theory, any injury results in the meridian energy flow and blood circulation becoming hindered and blocked in the area. The basic aim of acupuncture is to restore normal energy and blood circulation so as to encourage the body to stimulate its own healing and recovery process.
Mr Alan Jansson, a well-known acupuncturist on Queensland’s Gold Coast and Brisbane’s famous Gabba Cricket Ground treats many high profile athletes and sports people including the Brisbane Lions football team. He said “This type of sports injury of the knee is common among footballers because of the severe impact that can occur with players hitting into each other and the sheer numbers of kms that players clock up in the course of a season. The recovery rate is much accelerated when players have acupuncture because the treatment has the objective to stimulate healing and promote recovery. The pain relief is just a side effect.” Alan went on to say “Professional players are recommended to rest and elevate the leg by their medical team because this is the normal procedure. But competitive sportsman just want to get out there and play as soon as possible again and will try anything including acupuncture to speed up the process. Fortunately, for them, in the majority of cases,acupuncture works”.
Heiko Lade, who has a master’s degree in Traditional Chinese medicine from the University of Technology in Sydney also advocates the use of Chinese herbs as an external wash in the treatment of any knee swelling. He said “This type of external use of herbs is called die da and has a history of being used since the Shaolin days. Kung Fu monks also had a history of prepatellar bursitis from knee kicks and devised effective treatments hundreds of years ago”