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Bruised Knee


 What is a bruised knee?
 What is the cause?
 What are the symptoms?
 How is it diagnosed?
 How is it treated?
 How can I help prevent a bruised kneecap?

Bruised Knee: Illustration
Bruised Knee: IllustrationClick here to view a full size picture.

What is a bruised knee?

A bruised knee is an injury that causes pain and usually discoloration in your patella. Patella is the medical term for kneecap. A bruised knee is also called a patellar contusion.

What is the cause?

A bruised kneecap occurs from a direct injury to your kneecap. This usually happens from falling onto your knee or by being hit by an object.

What are the symptoms?

You will have pain directly over your kneecap. You may also have pain underneath your kneecap. You may have swelling in your knee. You may have pain walking or running. The outside of your knee may become swollen if the bursa is bruised. The bursa is a fluid filled sac just in front of the patella.

How is it diagnosed?

Your provider will ask you about your symptoms and examine your knee. He or she may order an X-ray.

How is it treated?

To treat this condition:

While you are recovering from your injury, you may need to change your sport or activity to one that does not make your condition worse. For example, you may need to swim or bicycle instead of run.

The effects of a bruised kneecap may last several days to weeks or longer. It may take longer if the back of the kneecap is injured.

Ask your provider:

Make sure you know when you should come back for a checkup.

How can I help prevent a bruised kneecap?

Most bruised kneecaps are caused by accidents that cannot be prevented. If you are in a sport that has knee protection, be sure that your equipment fits properly.

healthinformatics info

Reference Sources:

DeLee, Jesse C., David Drez, and Mark D. Miller, Orthopaedic Sports Medicine: Principles and Practice, Saunders; 3rd ed. 2009.

Greene, Walter B., M.D., Griffin, Letha Y. (Ed), Essentials of Musculoskeletal Care, 4th ed. Amer Academy of Orthopaedic. 2010.

Kisner, Carol, and Lynn Colby, Therapeutic Exercise: Foundations and Techniques, F. A. Davis Company; 6th ed, 2012.


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Last Modified: 2013-01-28

Last Reviewed: 2013-01-25

Website Updated: March 2014

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This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.


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