What Are the Signs of a Bruised Knee?

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  • Written By: J. Beam
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 19 May 2019
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A bruised knee can be painful, and because this condition is typically the result of some type of stress or injury, it can occur with or without further knee injury. Sometimes referred to as a patellar contusion, it is the result of blood vessels beneath the surface of the skin being damaged and leaking blood. The signs of a bruise may range from discoloration on the surface of the skin to swelling and tenderness to the touch.

Normally, the bruising that occurs because of minor bumps or impact trauma is called subcutaneous bruising and is marked by mild to moderate discoloration of the area and possibly mild pain or tenderness upon touch. This type of bruising is usually acute, or temporary, and should heal itself and disappear within a few days. An injury like this that results from minor impact may hurt briefly, but it is normally not cause for alarm.

Periosteal and intramuscular bruising is typically more painful than a subcutaneous bruise and is the result of a more severe impact or trauma, such as what might occur with a sports injury. A bruise that occurs to the bone is called periosteal, while intramuscular bruising is bruising of the muscles. A bruised knee can result in one or both types of bruising, and while the tell-tale discoloration may be present, pain, swelling, and discomfort when moving and touching the knee is also a sign of injury.


Sometimes, a bruise on the knee is a secondary symptom of a more serious injury. Bruising can occur during dislocation and even fracture of the patella, or kneecap. An injury this serious would normally be evident by marked pain, discomfort, and swelling. Treatment for any painful knee injury should be sought and stress should not be placed on the injured joint until a medical professional has diagnosed the injury and provided instructions for treatment and recovery.

It is possible for other forms of stress besides impact or injury to cause a bruised knee. Stress can be placed on the knees by excess weight and previous knee injuries are susceptible to bruising, especially during the healing process. Regardless of the cause, the signs are usually present in the form of pain, tenderness, swelling, and discoloration. Ice is an good early form of treatment for reducing swelling and temporarily relieving pain. Individuals should avoid taking aspirin or anti-inflammatory drugs unless prescribed by a medical professional as these can increase blood flow. Knee injuries that cause pain with movement or immobility should be evaluated by a healthcare provider as soon as possible.


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Post 8

I fell down the steps a few days ago and bruised up my knee kind of bad. I had already had a bruise there, so now I have a ring of bruises around my knee, it hurts a fear amount when I put weight on it and I have to play hockey in two days. What should I do?

Post 7

@OeKc05-- I have no idea if this actually works (or if anyone would actually attempt this) but my grandmother used to tell us to put sliced raw potatoes or raw meat on bruises to heal them.

It's such an odd thing to do that I never tried it. I also have no idea what the logic behind it is. But if any of you give it a shot one day, let me know if it works or not, I'm curious.

Post 6

@literally45-- It sounds like a bruise. Usually a bruise starts out looking purple and then over the course of days (sometimes weeks), the bruise changes colors and can look brown or yellow as it gets close to healing.

I'm guessing that you hit your arm and bruised it but didn't notice it until yesterday. I do that a lot, my nickname is "dancer with bruised knees." But I usually don't notice my bruises until I see the discoloration of my skin. And yes, it usually doesn't hurt unless you touch it.

Don't worry about it, your bruise has almost healed. Give it a few more days and it should go back to your normal skin color.

Post 5

Yesterday, I noticed this yellowish-brownish area on my arm that hurts when I touch it.

Is this a bruise?

Why is it yellow?

Post 4

@Oceana – I don't think that anyone has yet discovered how to heal a bruised knee, but there are a couple of things that you can do to speed up the process. I have a couple of large dogs that are very playful, and they often bruise my legs and knees, because they don't know their own strength. So, I have some experience in the bruise department.

Vitamin E cream can help bruises fade faster. It's usually marketed as a treatment for bruises.

One thing that I always do right after being injured is put a bag of ice on my knee. I sit down for about fifteen minutes with ice wrapped either in a towel or in a freezer bag, and I hold it on the area. I know this won't help you right now, but if you get injured in the future, remember that.

Post 3

I am going on vacation to the beach in a couple of weeks, and I have some unsightly bruises on my knee. I have no clue what to do for a bruised knee, but I would love to make the discoloration fade quickly.

It will be hot where I am going, and I plan on wearing shorts, dresses, and swimsuits. I don't want my bruise to be so glaringly obvious.

Post 2

I had a badly bruised knee after my car accident. I had been sitting in the back seat when we hit another car, and my knee had rammed into the back of the driver's seat hard.

I tried to step out of the vehicle, but I fell to the ground in pain. I got to ride in the ambulance to the hospital, and they wouldn't let me try to sit up.

X-rays determined that nothing was broken, but I had bruised the bone. It took me months to heal, and even then, I had trouble placing all of my weight on that leg. The bruise took about six months to disappear entirely.

Post 1

I used to get a bruised knee from a fall about once every week when I was learning to roller skate. I don't know why I never thought about getting some knee pads for protection!

The bruise would hurt for a short while, but despite the pain, I would get back up and start to skate again. I loved it so much, and children are very resilient!

I do remember getting a couple of bad knee bruises from ramming into the guard rails. After those, I had to sit down for about half an hour to recover.

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