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Knee Contusion (Bruised Knee): Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

What is Knee Contusion (Bruised Knee)?

A knee contusion or a bruised knee commonly occurs after an impact or extreme force on the knee. This can be a result of a direct fall onto the knee or something hitting the knee with force, such as a ball or stick. In medical terminology, bruise is termed as contusion.[1]

What can Cause a Knee Contusion (Bruised Knee)?

A knee contusion (bruised knee) commonly occurs after an impact or extreme force on the knee.

Bruising at the knee commonly occurs due to an impact injury, but it may also be a result of damage to the soft tissue such as sprain of a knee ligament or strain to surrounding muscles (commonly hamstrings).

Damage or injury to the smaller blood vessels (capillaries) within the injured tissue causes bruising. The blood escapes into the surrounding tissues, causing a black or blue appearance beneath the skin. Bruising usually appears within 24 hours of an injury and then slowly fades and becomes lighter in color, appearing yellow or green as the blood starts to disperse.

Knee Contusion (Bruised Knee)

Symptoms of Knee Contusion (Bruised Knee)

Usually contusions are not serious, but a very hard force or impact can cause acute pain and difficulty in moving the leg. If this happens, then medical attention should be sought immediately, as there may be a more serious injury involved such as a fractured patella.

  • Immediate pain is felt after the injury.
  • Bruising occurs the next day.
  • Tenderness to touch.
  • Swelling may be present.
  • The color of the bruise changes and starts fading or shrinking after some days.[3]

Treatment of Knee Contusion (Bruised Knee)

For mild to moderate knee contusions:

  • Rest and avoiding physical activities.
  • RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) application.
  • The bruising should be monitored to make sure that the pain and coloring subside.[4]

For severe knee contusions:

  • A severe contusion is usually treated the same as a minor one providing there are no complications, but the time taken for healing is longer in severe contusion.
  • Medical attention should be sought and severity of the injury along with any associated injuries should be assessed.
  • The RICE principle should be followed.
  • Anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen can be used for reduction in pain and inflammation.
  • If weight bearing is difficult, then crutches or a stick can be used for support.
  • In case of loss of movement, stretching, and mobility exercises for the quads, hamstrings, groin and calf is recommended.
  • Sports massage can be done in the subsequent stages in order to ready the muscles for sports and other physical activities. It also helps in flushing out any remaining blood clots; however, any type of massage techniques, hot packs and baths should be avoided while there is still new bleeding, as this can result in development of myositis ossificans.[5]


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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:October 5, 2020

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