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Knee Contusion

A knee contusion, or bruising of the knee, is a mild sports injury that can occur as a result of a direct impact to the knee. When a bruise or contusion occurs, the small blood vessels get damaged and blood leaks out under the skin causing the typical swelling and bruising seen in these injuries. While a knee contusion is uncomfortable and may temporarily make it difficult to walk or use your knee normally, it’s an injury that typically resolves quickly.

Knee Contusion Hero Image 2

A knee  contusion, or bruising of the knee, is a mild sports injury that can occur as a result of a direct impact to the knee. When a bruise or contusion occurs, the small blood vessels get damaged and blood leaks out under the skin causing the typical swelling and bruising seen in these injuries.

While a knee contusion is uncomfortable and may temporarily make it difficult to walk or use your knee normally, it’s an injury that typically resolves quickly.

What causes Knee Contusion?

A knee contusion usually results from a direct blow to the knee from an object or another person. Any blunt trauma with sufficient force to propel its energy into the muscle can cause a contusion. Contusions are often the result of sports-related injuries. Knee  contusions are common in contact sports especially the following;

 

  • Football
  • Rugby
  • Lacrosse
  • Soccer
  • Basketball

Symptoms

If you have a knee Contusion, you may have these symptoms:

  • Pain and/or stiffness in the knee
  • Ecchymoses, or ‘black and blue’ bruising and/or redness.
  • Swelling of the knee
  • Difficulty weight bearing

 

If you have a knee contusion you are usually able to put some pressure on your knee and move the knee but with some discomfort.

When to see a doctor

Although a knee contusion doesn’t usually require medical treatment, you may need to see your doctor to make sure that you don’t have a more serious injury. Make an appointment to see your doctor if you injure your knee and have swelling/pain that gets worse instead of better, have a lot of bruising or swelling in your knee,  or have trouble weight bearing. Your doctor will ask you about your injury and your symptoms and examine your knee. In order to rule out another injury, your doctor may order an  x-ray or MRI to get a better look at the bones and soft tissues of your knee.

Non-operative treatment

Knee contusions are always treated nonoperatively. Conservative treatments include:

 

  • Elevating the knee and ankle
  • Crutches or a cane
  • Using a simple knee bandage or neoprene sleeve
  • Rest, including taking a break from play
  • Icing your knee (every one to two hours for 20 minutes) – The general recommendation is to avoid heat during the first 24-48 hours to avoid increasing the extent of bleeding and swelling.
  • Over-the-counter pain medication, like ibuprofen or acetaminophen, if needed
  • Severe contusions are often treated by a Physical Therapist or an Athletic Trainer. They are often the best people to advise you on when it is safe to return to your sport.

Recovery

After a knee  contusion, you may be able to restart normal activities after just a few days, though more severe contusions may require several weeks of resting your knee. You should start stretching exercises within a few days of your injury and progress to strengthening and weight-bearing  exercises, under the guidance of your doctor or physical therapist. You can return to play once you’ve regained your full range of motion and strength of your ankle and knee.

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