Knee bursitis often presents itself with both pain and swelling. It can affect your daily life even if you don’t do any kind of hard-on-the-knee exercise.
When the bursa are inflamed, even something as simple as standing and walking can cause pain or discomfort.
The good news is that with just a few easy steps, you can reduce the pain and manage the movement of your knee. Learning how to tape your knee for bursitis can be one of the best things you do to help.
In this article, we’ll give you a quick overview of knee bursitis, explain how and why taping helps, and talk you through a helpful taping technique that will relieve pain and stabilize your knee.
What Is Knee Bursitis?
Knee bursitis is a painful condition in which the bursae—or bursa sacs—in the knee become inflamed and painful.
The bursae are small sacs filled with synovial fluid. They help to provide shock absorption and reduce friction at pressure points between the skin, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones.
When you have knee bursitis, these small sacs become inflamed. This causes them to start producing more fluid than usual, which causes pressure in the sacs leading to pain and swelling.
You may feel this pain and experience swelling in various places on the knee, as there are four major bursa that may become inflamed.
- Prepatellar bursa: Swelling and pain on the kneecap.
- Suprapatellar bursa: Swelling and pain above the knee.
- Infrapatellar bursa: Swelling and pain below the knee.
- Pes anserinus bursa: Swelling and pain inside and below the knee.
In addition to pain and swelling, you may notice that the affected bursa feels warm, and it may be tender to the touch. This can also affect your range of motion.
It’s more common for these symptoms to develop over time, although in some cases they may show up suddenly.
Knee bursitis is often an overuse injury, caused by repetitive motion of the knee joint. This causes friction between the bursa and the bone, muscle, or skin, which leads to inflammation.
It can also occur when excess pressure is placed on the knee for an extended period. In some cases, knee bursitis may develop as a side effect of an inflammatory condition like gout or rheumatoid arthritis.
Resting your knee is the best way to relieve the symptoms of knee bursitis and help your knee to heal.
You should avoid doing any sort of movement that makes the pain in your knee worse. You may need to take a break from exercising to give your knee the rest it needs.
Follow the RICE principle. Aside from resting your knee and avoiding exercise that affects your knee, you can ice your knee 2 to 4 times a day for 10 to 20 minutes at a time to relieve the pain.
You can also elevate your knee while you’re icing it, which can help to reduce swelling as it helps the excess fluid to drain from the bursa.
If you have a knee compression sleeve, you can use this to help stabilize your knee and improve circulation in the area, which will help with healing. Changing your footwear to shoes that help with bursitis could be beneficial.
You can also tape your knee for pain relief and stability.
How Can Taping Help With Knee Bursitis?
Taping your knee can help to reduce both pain and inflammation in the knee. The structure of the tape can help to provide stability for your knee and take pressure off of the painful and inflamed bursa.
It also helps to provide light compression and increase circulation in the area. This can help to speed up healing by bringing oxygen-rich and nutrient-rich blood to the inflamed and painful bursae.
How to Apply the Kinesiology Tape
Before applying the tape to your knee, make sure the skin is clean and dry. You can clean your knee with rubbing alcohol as it dries the skin and removes any hint of lotion.
Measure the correct length by starting about halfway up your thigh, running the tape down and in a teardrop shape around the kneecap, and then back up to the starting position.
Cut this strip into two equal sections and round the corners to help it stick more easily.
Break the backing just before the end of the tape and stick the end of the tape just underneath your kneecap. There should be no tension on the tape.
Bring the tape up, around the kneecap, and towards your inner thigh with moderate tension. You should anchor this piece of tape about 2 inches above the patella and then stick the rest down firmly without tension.
The piece of tape should look like a hook coming down from your inner thigh around your kneecap.
Using the second piece of tape, do the same thing just coming around the other side of the patella. The two pieces of tape should cross about 2 inches above the kneecap.
Your third strip of tape should be about half the length of the first 2. Break the backing in the middle and stretch it about 25%, then stick it firmly underneath the patella over the first 2 pieces of tape.
Stick the edges down without any tension. Your knee should be well stabilized and you should notice a reduction in pain.
When Should You See a Doctor for Knee Bursitis?
You should see your doctor if you have taken steps to treat your knee bursitis at home, but it isn’t getting better. A doctor may prescribe steroid injections or physical therapy to help the knee heal.
Surgery may be done to remove the inflamed bursa as a last resort. This is usually only considered if the bursa becomes infected.
If you develop a fever along with an inflamed and painful knee, you should see your doctor as soon as possible as it may be a sign of infection.
When Shouldn’t You Use Tape?
If you have open wounds or healing wounds on your knee, you should avoid placing tape over them.
You should also be careful using tape if you have sensitive skin. It’s best to test the tape first by placing a small square of it onto your skin for about 15 minutes. If you have any itching, redness, or welts develop, you should try a different type of tape.