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Knee bursitis N077

Last amended 
18 April 2023

Current RMA Instruments

Reasonable Hypothesis SOP

65 of 2018

Balance of Probabilities SOP

66 of 2018

SOP bulletin information on new SOPs

SOP Bulletin 203

ICD Coding

  • ICD-9-CM Code: 726.60, 726.61, 726.65, 726.69
  • ICD-10-AM Code: M70.4, M70.5

Brief description

Knee bursitis covers inflammation / infection of any of multiple bursae around the knee joint (with one exclusion, see below). Bursae around the knee are thin sacs of fluid that generally sit between muscle/tendon and bone and help to reduce friction.

Confirming the diagnosis

The diagnosis is made based on the history and findings on examination and can be made by a treating GP or physiotherapist.  MRI and ultrasound can be used for definitive diagnosis but are not essential.

The relevant medical specialist is an orthopaedic surgeon.

Additional diagnoses that are covered by SOP

  • Deep infrapatellar bursitis
  • Fibular bursitis
  • Fibulopopliteal bursitis
  • Lateral gastrocnemius bursitis
  • Medial collateral ligament bursitis
  • Medial gastrocnemius bursitis
  • Pes anserine bursitis
  • Prepatellar bursitis
  • Pretibial bursitis
  • Subpopliteal bursitis
  • Semimembranosus-tibial collateral ligament bursitis
  • Superficial infrapatellar bursitis
  • Suprapatellar bursitis

Conditions that are excluded from SOP

  • Baker’s cyst* (popliteal cyst SOP) (involves gastrocnemius-semimembranosus bursitis)
  • Popliteal cyst*

* another SOP applies

Clinical onset

The condition usually presents with pain, tenderness and swelling at the appropriate site around the knee.  

Clinical worsening

Conservative treatment is generally effective over a course of weeks to months, but the condition may recur, particularly if provoking activities are continued or resumed.  Surgery may be indicated in some cases.