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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Some aspects of “Housemaid’s knee” with homoepathic mode of treatment-

Also known as roofer’s knee, it is a benign swelling over the knee on account of an enlargement of the bursa named prepatellar bursa in front of the patella, which in turn is due to an inflammation of the said bursa. Housemaid’s knee is so named because of the fact that this health problem was once found to be a major occupational hazard of Housemaid’s knee & was believed to be caused by leaning too much on the knee by them.

Pathology- Prepatellar bursa is a superficial bursa with a thin synovial lining in front of the patella in between the skin & the patella. It is seen in the lower half of patella & upper half of ligamentum patella. The bursa develops after birth within a few years of life as a result of mechanical pressure & friction. It helps in reducing friction on the underlying structures & thus allows maximal range of motion in the knee. The inflammation of the bursa usually due to repeated trauma to the knee with excess fluid causes restricted movement of the joint with pain, swelling & heat.

Age- Any age group can be affected.

Sex- It is more common in males.

Predisposing factors-
(1) Repeated rubbing or pressure on the knees from kneeling on hard surfaces in an occupation.
(2) A direct blow or a fall on the knee causing rupture of blood vessels & subsequent swelling of the prepatellar bursa.
(3) Spread of an infection from a surface injury, such as a skin wound over the kneecap. Infection is usually the main cause of Housemaid’s knee in children. Infection is also the main cause in people in whom the immunity is deranged such as those on steroid therapy or chemotherapy for cancer.

Clinical features-
(1) Swelling over the kneecap.
(2) Warmth over the kneecap.
(3) Limited motion of the knee.
(4) Painful movement of the knee.
Kneeling usually aggravates the symptoms, while sitting still relieves them.

[A] General measures to be taken are-
(1) Avoidance of the aggravating activity.
(2) Wearing of knee pads while kneeling.
(3) Exercise to strength the quadriceps muscle.
(4) Physiotherapy.

[B] Homeopathic medicines to be used are- Specific remedies include Arnica, Bryonia or Ruta graveolens (Ruta)। The potency & frequency of dosage varies with the severity of the condition & the individual। Usually a lower potency is to be used first for thrice daily & to be continued till the persistence of the symptoms। If improvement is seen, the same medicine is to be continued. But if there is no significant improvement or improvement has come to a standstill, the frequency of dosage should be increased. And in cases where there is no response within a reasonable amount of time, the medicine should be stopped & a different medicine is to be started. It is to be kept in mind that Housemaid’s knee caused by infection needs to be recognized quickly & treated promptly.

Prevention- Use of knee pads by those whose work necessitates kneeling for extended periods of time. This is especially true for those who had already an episode of Housemaid’s knee to prevent recurrence.

Prognosis- Housemaid’s knee may interfere with physical activity, but otherwise it is relatively harmless. But if left untreated, there may be associated loss of quadriceps muscle strength which in turn may cause the leg to give out.

In short, Housemaid’s knee manifests itself as a swelling over the kneecap & can be treated by Arnica, Bryonia or Ruta.

But in every case, a doctor should be consulted.

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