Knee contusion

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A knee contusion is caused by direct impact or strike on the joint. This is usually due to a fall straight onto the knee or an object that directly hits the joint such as a club or ball. The treatment is based on the severity of the injury.

Most cases of this injury are not serious but a strong impact that results to significant pain and difficulty moving the leg necessitates medical attention. This is vital to rule out the possibility of other injuries such as a fractured patella.

Even though bruising typically occurs after an impact injury, it can also arise after any form of soft tissue injury such as a sprain or strain to the adjacent muscles, usually the hamstrings. Remember that bruising occurs due to the damage to the smaller blood vessels inside the damaged tissue. Blood seeps into the neighboring tissues which results to the bluish or black appearance beneath the skin. The bruising usually manifests within 24 hours of the injury and steadily fades into yellow or green as the blood disperses.

Knee contusion
Immediate pain at the time of injury with bruising that might develop the next day.

Indications of knee contusion

The indications of a knee contusion include the following:

  • Immediate pain at the time of injury with bruising that might develop the next day
  • Affected area is tender to the touch
  • Swelling is present but usually minimal
  • Bruising starts to change color and fades after a few days


A knee contusion that is mild or moderate requires rest. The individual should take a break from sports or activity if the knee is sore or bruised since this can increase the internal bleeding and swelling. The PRICE method should be used as part of the initial care.

An ice pack must be applied for 10-15 minutes every hour initially. The frequency should be reduced as the symptoms settle. Keep track of the bruising to ensure that the pain and color reduces over the next few days.

In severe cases of knee contusion, medical attention is required. The doctor will evaluate the injury and diagnose for any significant damage to the tissues and structures such as the ligament or cartilage. Anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen can be given to minimize the pain and swelling. An ice pack should be applied right away and continued for at least the initial 24-48 hours.

Disclaimer / More Information

The information posted on this page on a knee contusion is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to manage tissue injuries, register for first aid training at one of our training centers located throughout Canada. The training centers are in Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, Mississauga, Kelowna, Surrey, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa and Halifax.

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