A bruised knee will heal in just a few days with simple home interventions, but some cases might warrant medical attention.
Here’s more on bruising of knees and tendons including several at-home treatments that you can use to aid healing of bruised tendons and kneecaps.
Deep and badly bruised
Otherwise known as patellar contusion, a deeplybruised knee is a condition characterized whereby the patella (knee cap) gets a skin discoloration among other symptoms e.g. pain usually as a result of a direct injury to your knee following a physically traumatic events.
This can for example happen when someone falls directly onto the knee, gets hit by a hard object e.g. a ball, gets hit accidentally during a sports activity, gets involved in a car accident, or gets physically assaulted by another person.
Physical trauma aside, deep knee bone bruising can also occur as a result of soft tissue damage such as when someone strains a surrounding muscle e.g. hamstrings, or sprains a knee ligament.
The bruising (discoloration) occurs when the small blood vessels occurring beneath the skin get damaged and leaks blood into the soft tissue around them.Bruised knees typically become visible within 24 hours of an injury.
The bruising will improve gradually over a few days, changing color along the way as the components of blood leaked out gets absorbed back into the body.
Bruised knees are usually accompanied by instant pain that starts as soon as the injury is sustained. In addition, the affected area will feel tender to touch and may get swollen.
Most cases of knee bruising are not a cause for concern but a hard impact on the knee can leave you with abadly bruised knee that isunbearably painfulor even makes it difficult for you to move your leg. If that occurs, it is advisable to see your doctor immediately to help you rule out more serious problems such as patella fracture.
Treatment and how to heal
Mild and moderate cases of knee bruises (that are not unbearably painful and do not make you unable to move your foot) can benefit fromhaving lots of rest to avoid undue pressure which would then likely cause even more pain and swelling while applying the PRICE principles as follows:
Protect: This simply entails protecting your knee from further injury and connects closely with the second principle which is,
Rest: avoid exposing your knee to further strain and pressure by resting the affected knee for the next 48 to 72 hours. Take a break from your training or play as that may increase bruising and swelling or even pain.
Ice: Icing the injured knee helps to reduce pain and inflammation especially if applied as soon as possible after the injury. You should however not apply ice directly on the skin. Instead wrap ice cubes in a small towel and then pressing them gently against the bruised knee for 15 to 20 minutes several times daily. Some doctors recommend applying for 25 minutes every 2hours for the first 2-3 days.
Compression: Applying a bandage loosely on the affected kneecan also help to minimize swelling. It is however advisable to remove the bandage while you sleep. You can buy one at your local drugstore.
Elevation: Keeping the knee elevate (up) as you sit or lie also helps to reduce swelling and promote healing. Simply place the affected foot on a pillow or some cushions, but try to make your knee to be above the level of your heart.
You will also want to take some anti-inflammatory medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) to alleviate pain and reduce swelling.
More serious cases of knee contusions may however require the attention of a doctor. In addition to asking about your history and physical examination, your doctor may require you to take an X-ray to ascertain that you have not sustained a fracture. The doctor may also require you to walk on crutches.
Bruised tendon in knee
Tendons serves the purpose of attaching body muscles to bones. The knee has two tendons, namely, patellar tendon and quadriceps tendon.
Patellar tendon connects the bottom of the kneecap (patella) to the shinbone (tibia) while quadriceps tendon connects the kneecap to the quadriceps muscles in the thigh.
Injury or overuse of the patellar tendon can cause what is called patellar tendonitis – inflammation of the tendon.
You may hear some people refer to it as jumper’s knee” since it is common among athletes involved in jumping activities such as volleyball and basketball.
Symptoms ofpatellar tendonitis includes pain, swelling, red discoloration and warmth in the affected area.
Most cases will improve in just a few days with enough rest and simple home care measures including taking pain relieving medication e.g. ibuprofen (Advil) and icing (with frozen vegetables or ice cubes wrapped in a towel).
Persistent cases that don’t seem to improve in a few days even with application of the above measures however warrants the attention ofyour doctor.
Your doctor will physically examine you and probably recommend taking an ultrasound scan after which s/he will then recommend an appropriate treatment from among such options as medications, physiotherapy, and surgery.
Bruising behind knee
I recently got a bruising behind the knee after a biking accident and the doctor only recommended icing and taking a break from sports momentarily. I am just wondering if there are other treatments available other than just icing and resting.” Peter
Well, icing and resting are generally important in promoting healing and reducing the appearance of symptoms. Icing helps to reduce pain and swelling, but it is critical that you start as early as possible.
Resting on the other hand prevents you from exerting undue pressure on the bruised area as it heals. You may however want to move your knee momentarily and in some low intensity movements to avoid weakening of the leg muscles.
You don’t really have to include more treatment options into your regime but if you are experiencing some pain, you may want to take some anti-inflammatory medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Elevating your leg up as you sit or lie down (to enhance circulation) could also help.
What to do at home
Just the other day, a reader by the name of Christine wrote to us asking what to do for a bruised knee.
Well, most cases of knee bruising improve with simple homecare measures that aim at controlling the symptoms while promoting blood circulation (and thus healing), and improving the appearance of the affected knee. These can be summarized as follows:
- Pain relief: Pain relief medication such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen; icing
- Swelling and tenderness relief: Icing (especially if done early); anti-inflammatory drugs e.g. acetaminophen, compression with a bandage
- Promoting healing: Taking lots of rest; keeping the knee elevated
- Medical interventions: More serious cases may necessitate ultrasound followed by prescription medication; surgery; or physiotherapy. Your doctor will advise you accordingly.
Bruising from running
“What do you suggest I apply to a bruised knee that occurred from spending a long time on the track for practice?” Juliet
Runners and other athletes get bruised knees from of overuse of the knee e.g. from extended running times.
If you have a bruise it is strongly recommended that you take a brief break from your training routine since continuing on a bruised knee can worsen the symptoms or even lead to more complicated problems that may even necessitate surgery.
Once off the field, follow the other four of the PRICE Principles (Protection, Rest, Icing, Compression, and Elevation) discussed earlier on in this guide. For pain consider over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen (Advil) and acetaminophen (Tylenol).
If symptoms however persist, seek medical attention.
“My little has a bruised and swollen knee after I bumped into her while running out of the house to meet my mom coming back from work. What do you think is the best way to reduce the swelling and reddish look?” Maggie
Well, Maggie, your best bet is to ice the knee several times daily using an ice pack as described in a previous section of this guide. You should as well advise your sister to avoid lots of movements and other vigorous activities that place pressure on the knee for a few days.
If there is need, you can as well get some OTC pain killers such as acetaminophen from your local drugstore. Just be sure follow the instructions provided carefully and you will be good to go. Finally, try to encourage her to keep the knee in an elevated position, for example, by placing a pillow beneath it while she lies down.