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Knee Joint Bruises: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Recovery, Prevention

What are Knee Joint Bruises?

A hard impact or blow to the knee joint can cause knee joint bruises.1 The impact may be due to some object such as a ball hitting the knee or falling on the knee. Knee joint bruises which are small are usually not very severe and does not requires any special medical attention. However, in some cases where impact is high leading to pain and difficulty in moving leg, immediate medical attention is required to take care of any severe damage including fractured patella. Usually knee joint bruises result due to a hard impact but sometimes it may result due to a hamstring or strain the ligaments surrounding the knee. A hamstring causes damage to the soft tissue leading to knee joint bruises in some cases.

What are Knee Joint Bruises?

Causes of Knee Joint Bruises

The knee joint bruises are usually caused in case of any damage to fine blood vessels around the knee. The damage causes leakage of blood into the adjacent tissue causing a visible black or blue pigmentation on the knee. The bruise can be seen within a day from the injury. In gradually changes its color from black to green or yellow as it fades away.

Signs and Symptoms of Knee Joint Bruises

In case of knee joint bruises, the first signs and symptoms is the feeling of intense pain just after the impact. After the injury, the bruises will appear in a span of 24 hours. In moderate and severe cases of knee joint bruises, swelling can be seen in the knee. The knee area would feel tender when touched and the bruise will gradually change its color and fade away in the next few days.

Complications of Knee Joint Bruises

Minor cases of knee joint bruises do not result in any complications. However, in case of moderate and severe knee joint bruises, it is important to take proper care and see your doctor immediately. In the absence of proper management of knee joint bruises, there is a risk of myositis ossificans and compartment syndrome.

Compartment Syndrome is a Complication of Knee Joint Bruises

In case of intense internal bleeding due to knee joint bruises, there can be high pressure (B.P) build-up of the fluids in the a knee and surrounding tissue. This can prevent blood from reaching to these tissues which is the main reason for causing compartment syndrome. It requires an immediate surgery to avoid any further complications. The first aim of the surgeon is to get rid of fluids to let the blood flow normally.

Another Complication of Knee Joint Bruises is Myositis Ossificans

This complication of myositis ossifications is usually seen in case of severe knee joint bruises in athletes who do not give sufficient rest for a prescribed time period leading to development of myositis ossificans. In this condition, the bruised muscles starts to grow muscles in place of generating fresh muscle cells. The main symptoms of myositis ossificans include constant swelling in the knee along with persistent pain.

Treatment for Knee Joint Bruises

Treatment for Mild Knee Joint Bruises

In case of a mild knee joint bruises, the first thing you need to make sure is to stop moving or playing with your knee as it can make things worse due to severe internal bleeding and swelling. It is helpful to apply follow PRICE which stands for principles of protecting the knee joint bruises, rest, ice, compression and elevation. A compression wrap with cold therapy is the best treatment that you can provide instantly at home.

Initially, it is recommended to apply ice for a duration of 10-15 minutes every hour. With the bruise showing signs of easing off with reduction in pain and swelling, you can reduce the frequency of applying ice. Make sure that there is continuous improvement in the knee joint bruises as the treatment is continued for a few days.

Treatment for Severe Knee Joint Bruises

In case of a severe knee joint bruises, it is recommended to see you doctor or medical experts immediately so your doctor can assess the severity of the knee joint bruises and extent of damage. It is important to identify any damage to soft tissues such as ligaments and cartilage. Doctors usually provide drugs such as Brufen that helps in reducing the inflammation and easing off pain. Also, ice therapy must be continued for at least first two days or longer as advised by your doctor.

Severe knee joint bruises requires similar treatment and attention but the time for recovering and returning to your normal activities can be significantly more as compared to a moderate or minor bruise.

Your doctor would also recommend for a certain set of exercises including stretching and movements of knee joint, calf muscle, groin and hamstring in the later stages of treatment for severe knee joint bruises. This helps in development of flexibility of muscles and draining off any clot of blood.

Hot packs and hot baths must be strictly avoided in any case of bruises of injury as it can lead to the complication of myositis ossificans.

Surgery to Treat Knee Joint Bruises

Usually most of the cases of Knee joint bruises can be very easily treated without any need of surgical procedures. However, in case of any complications such as compartment syndrome, surgery for knee joint bruises is needed immediately to avoid any further damage of the body.

Alternative Treatments for Knee Joint Bruises

There are various alternative treatments that have been known to show good results in case of knee joint bruises. The actual outcomes and side effects of these therapies is still yet to be proved.

  • Therapeutic ultrasound is one of the popular alternative treatments for treating knee joint bruises by promoting cell division and replacement of damaged cells or tissues with the new cells. This therapy is known to boost the proliferation of fibroblast and myogenic precursor.
  • Some other alternative therapies include electrotherapy and whirlpool therapy that can shorten the time for recovering from knee joint bruises.

Recovery Period/Healing Time for Knee Joint Bruises

The healing time or time needed for recovery of knee joint bruises depends on the severity of the bruise as well as the proper management of the condition. Minor cases of bruise does not usually take more than 6 weeks to heal properly. However, severe knee joint bruises can take longer for complete healing and recovery. Some of the complications such as excessive bleeding, the recovery period can be longer. Thus, it is better to talk to your doctor about the recovery time as he is the best person to know about your situation and complications.

Prevention of Knee Joint Bruises

Knee joint bruise occurs as result of accident when some object hit your knee with force. While accidents cannot be avoided completely, wearing right set of shoes while playing can certainly minimize the risk of twisting or slipping while running and avoiding injury to the knee. Wearing knee braces can also help in prevention of knee joint bruises.

Home Remedies for Knee Joint Bruises

The best home remedy for knee joint bruises is to use cold compression. At home, you can provide and cold compress by applying a bag of ice on the bruises on regular intervals. This helps a lot in subsiding the pain and swelling.

Coping with Knee Joint Bruises

Coping with knee joint bruises is a challenging task as the problem might repeat itself if you are not careful and alert. Knee joint bruises occurs when any serious impact on the knee can ruptures the blood vessels and lead to internal bleeding. The recovery from the knee joint bruises varies according to the treatment as well as the severity of the bruise. Knee joint bruises that damages the tissues just under the skin heals faster as compared to more severe cases.

  • It is important to prevent any movements of the knee joint to properly cope with knee joint bruises when there is swelling or other signs of damage. Any movement can disrupt with the healing process and can also trigger bleeding.
  • Cold compress works perfectly to ease out the pain and also reduce swelling in the knee and is a good way to cope with knee joint bruises. The compress can be applied several times in a day for 10 to 15 minutes. However, direct application of ice must be avoided to prevent any damage to tissue.
  • Another way to cope with knee joint bruises is to lay down flat on your back with your foot and knee raised a bit above from the level of the heart. This prevents excessive bleeding which can cause swelling and other complications such as pooling of blood to adjacent tissues.
  • You can take acetaminophen to ease out the pain but ibuprofen and aspirin must be strictly avoided especially within one hour of injury unless your doctor prescribes the same. These medicines can further complicate your bruise with more bleeding. The dosage must be taken as instructed by the doctor.
  • Tie up the bruised knee with a bandage or piece of cloth tightly but not too tight. This can reduce the recovery time and ease off swelling. Usage of braces will help in long term coping.
  • Ask your doctor about the right time to get back to routine and is prepared to tough movements such as climbing stairs.

Exercises for Knee Joint Bruises

Exercises are indeed necessary to keep the knee joint stiff but you must refer to your doctor as to know about the type of exercises that you can try after a recovery period.

Prognosis/Outlook for Knee Joint Bruises

Knee joint bruises are not very severe in most cases and can be easily treated. It is not life threatening but in severe cases of knee joint bruises where there is too much bleeding, it is necessary to see your doctor to avoid any serious complications. Major knee injuries can be treated with complete recovery.

Lifestyle Changes for Knee Joint Bruises

Usage of knee supporters such as knee braces during the recovery and afterwards while you are doing activities such as walking, jogging, or any sports related activities is a good lifestyle change for knee joint bruises. Knee plays a vital role in our routine activities as it enables us to move by supporting the motion of legs. Knee joint bruises requires a person to seek doctor’s advice immediately and give proper rest to your knee. Thus, there are many changes that are forced into your lifestyle until the injury is not healed properly. Movement of the knee must be reduced until the treatment is completed as it can cause several other complications.


Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 5, 2019

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