A bruise, which is medically referred to as a contusion, is often a direct result of an injury wherein blood leaks into the surrounding soft tissue from ruptured blood vessels. Skin discoloration and swelling are characteristic signs of a bruise. Bone bruise in the knee occurs when the tibia and fibula get compressed due to force, as a result of which the outer layer of the femur gets disrupted. Let's gather some information on the types of bruises and their causes before learning how to treat a bruised knee bone.
Types of Bruises
Bruises are classified into subcutaneous, intramuscular and periosteal bruises. A subcutaneous bruise develops when the blood vessels located in the subcutaneous layer of the skin rupture. An intramuscular bruise, on the other hand, develops when blood vessels located in the muscles rupture, causing the blood to leak into the surrounding tissues. A periosteal bruise, is another type of bruise that is formed when the periosteum, which is a fibrous membrane that covers the surface of the bones, gets damaged. Since this part of the knee is richly supplied by blood, trauma may cause bleeding under the periosteum. When bleeding takes place under this protective membrane, one is diagnosed with a bruised bone. Let's look into the treatment for bruised bone in the knee along with the causes for the same.
What Causes Bones in the Knee to Get Bruised?
The knee joint is a complex joint that consists of bones, ligaments, cartilage and various other structures. While femur (thigh bone), tibia (shin bone) and patella (knee cap) are the bones that make up the complex knee joint, ligaments, cartilage and tendons help in keeping this joint stable. Trauma to the knee can cause damage to any of these structures. When it comes to traumatic knee injuries, runners or people who play high speed contact sports surely are a part of the high-risk group. It is not uncommon for runners to get a bruised bone in knee from running. A blow to the side of the knee, falls or twisting injuries while playing sports such as rugby, soccer, hockey, gymnastics or certain adventure sports can certainly cause a contusion in knee. When the outer layer of the bone and the periosteum get damaged and the blood vessels rupture, bleeding takes place under the periosteum. While discoloration of the knee is one of the most characteristic signs of a bruised bone, one is most likely to experience symptoms such as swelling, stiffness, tenderness and painful movement. The range of motion of the knee is also most likely to get affected. The severity of the symptoms would depend on the extent of damage caused by the injury.
Treatment Options for Bruised Bone in the Knee
Now that you have some idea on the causes of bone bruise, let's move on to effective remedies for healing bruised bone in the knee. First of all, there is a great need to ascertain the extent of damage to the structures within the knee. An X-ray examination can help the doctors assess the condition of the bones, ligaments and cartilage. Since occult bone lesions may not be seen on X-ray, doctors may also conduct an MRI to check for signs of displaced fractures, dislocated knee or other serious complications that may develop owing to trauma. If diagnostic tests reveal a fractured bone, then drug therapy and other knee bone fracture treatment options may be recommended. In severe sports injuries, surgery may be required for reconstructing a damaged knee joint. As far as the treatment is concerned, doctors follow a symptomatic approach and try to alleviate the symptoms through drug therapy and self-care measures. Most doctors rely on the RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) principle when it comes to treatment for broken cartilage in knee. This approach is also followed to some extent for treating a bruised bone.
Pain Relief: Since a bruised bone is most likely to cause pain, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or painkillers are often prescribed for providing relief from pain. Drugs can be taken orally and topical application of medicated ointments may also be suggested. If the pain is too severe, doctors may recommend the use of steroids as well. Though pain medications are available over the counter, it is always better to take analgesics that are prescribed by the doctor. Microcurrent therapy is another treatment option that may be used. Under this procedure, small amounts of current is passed to the affected area to promote healing. Taking certain supplements during the recovery period may also prove beneficial. For instance, supplementation of vitamin K and vitamin C may help to speed up the healing process. Vitamin K helps to strengthen bones, while antioxidant properties of vitamin C will help in fighting off infection and thus, help one recover fast.
Reducing Swelling: When trauma to the knee causes a bruised bone, there's a great likelihood of one developing a swelling around the injury. Ice therapy, which is an important part of the RICE principle, is aimed at bringing down the swelling. Application of ice at the site of injury helps in narrowing the blood vessels. This limits the flow of blood and fluids and brings the swelling down. Since it also numbs the area for some time, it may provide relief from pain. One must, however, refrain from using ice for long stretches of time. Since blood carries oxygen, nutrients and immune cells at the site of injury, reduced flow of blood can also slow down healing. Thus, make sure that you don't apply ice directly and never apply it for more than 15 minutes at a stretch.
Ample Rest: The body will recover quickly only when one takes ample rest and refrains from indulging in any strenuous physical activity. The tissues and the structures within the knee must not be subjected to any stress. Indulging in activities that put stress on the knee joint, would certainly affect the healing process in an adverse manner. Flexing, rotating or extending the knee can stress the ligaments and cartilage. It can also lead to inflammation. Under such circumstances, the immune system will have to work harder to counter the effects of inflammation. So, take rest and comply with the guidelines given by the doctor.
Physiotherapy: Though rest is essential to help the body recuperate, once the tissues have healed considerably, one needs to strengthen the joint. The aim of physiotherapy is to recover the normal range of motion. This is achieved by performing exercises that help to strengthen the knee. The problem of reduced mobility can be tackled effectively through physiotherapy.
This was some information on ways of treating a bruised bone in the knee. Trauma to the knee can sometimes hamper the knee stability and lead to reduced mobility. Though contusions in bone can be treated with drugs and other treatment options, severe bone bruises could sometimes take months to heal. It is therefore, essential, that these are diagnosed and treated at the earliest.