Preparing for your appointmentBy Mayo Clinic staff
While you may initially consult your family physician, he or she may refer you to a rheumatologist — a doctor who specializes in arthritis and other joint disorders — or an orthopedic surgeon.
What you can do
You may want to write a list that includes:
- Detailed descriptions of your symptoms
- Information about medical problems you've had
- Information about the medical problems of your parents or siblings
- All the medications and dietary supplements you take
- Questions you want to ask the doctor
For knee bursitis, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What is the most likely cause of my symptoms?
- Are there any other possible causes?
- Will I need to have any tests done?
- What treatment approach do you recommend?
- Will I need to limit my activities?
- Are there any self-care measures I can try?
- Do you have any informational brochures I can take home with me? What websites do your recommend for information about my condition?
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor will conduct an examination to determine the cause of knee pain. He or she may begin with questions that can help distinguish bursitis from other disorders:
- When did your pain begin?
- Did it begin suddenly or gradually?
- What kind of work or recreational activities do you do that may affect your knees?
- Does your pain occur or worsen when doing certain activities, such as kneeling or climbing stairs?
- Have you recently fallen, been in an accident or suffered a blow to your knee?
- What kind of treatments have you tried at home?
- What effect did those treatments have?
Your doctor will inspect your knee by:
- Comparing the condition of both knees, particularly if only one is painful
- Gently pressing on different areas of your knee to detect warmth, swelling and the source of pain
- Carefully moving your legs and knees into different positions to determine the range of motion in your knee joint and identify movement associated with pain
- Questions and answers about bursitis and tendinitis. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Bursitis/default.asp. Accessed March 31, 2011.
- Hanada E, et al. Knee bursitis. In: Frontera WR, et al. Essentials of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation: Musculoskeletal Disorders, Pain, and Rehabilitation. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2008. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/208746819-6/0/1678/0.html. Accessed March 31, 2011.
- Anderson BC. Knee bursitis. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed April 4, 2011.
- Moeller JL, et al. Orthopedics. In: Rakel RE. Textbook of Family Medicine. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2007. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/191205553-4/0/1481/0.html#. Accessed April 4, 2011.
- Prepatellar (kneecap) bursitis. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00338. Accessed April 4, 2011.
- Schmidt MJ, et al. Tendinopathy and bursitis. In: Marx JA, et al. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2010. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?about=true&eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-05472-0..X0001-1--TOP&isbn=978-0-323-05472-0&uniqId=230100505-57. Accessed April 4, 2011.
- Huddleston JI, et al. Hip and knee pain. In: Firestein GS, et al. Kelley's Textbook of Rheumatology. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2009. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/208746819-6/0/1807/0.html. Accessed April 4, 2011.