We are all familiar with skin contusions, but did you know that bones can bruise as well? It's rarer in everyday life, but competitive athletes and car accident victims both find bone contusions to be a common and painful injury. Though a bruised patella, or knee bone, will heal on its own, it is important to get it looked at, as it can be the predecessor to a number of additional knee injuries and tendon damage. Here is a look at what a physical therapist will explore when treating your bruised knee bone:
Types of Bone Bruising
A bone bruise can be as painful as a break, but is often harder to diagnose immediately. Bone contusions come in three different types:
<li>A sub-periostial hematoma, which is a collection of blood around the periosteum, or the membrane around the bone.</li>
<li>An inter-osseus bruise, which causes bleeding in the marrow region of the bone. This is most common in athletes who play sports like rugby, basketball and football and are regularly falling with the combined weight of speed and multiple bodies.</li>
<li>A subchondrial buise occurs when the cartilage begins to separate from the bone. This is most common in extreme cases, like extreme sports injuries and car accidents. In the case of knee bruises, this can result in the separation of the knee from the meniscus.</li>
Bone bruises will heal on their own over time, but it can be a long and painful process. The exception to this is in the case of a subchondrial bruise, where there is a detachment of tendon from bone. In some cases, this may require surgery to fix completely. In most cases of bone bruising, it is simply to give the bone the most opportunity to heal that you can. Rest, ice, anti-inflammatories and compression can all help the bone to heal more quickly. Physical therapy of the area is mostly focused on maintaining strength and flexibility of the muscles surrounding the knee so that you can return to normal activities when the healing is done.
Physical Therapy for the Knee Region
Because of the need to rest, most of the exercises to maintain strength around a bruised knee shouldn't be weight bearing. Swimming and cycling are two of the main kinds of exercises that will give an athlete a good workout without putting a load on the knee. Swimming is preferred if there is an issue with bending the knee, as it's possible to work out while keeping your knee relatively straight. As you begin to heal, workouts that gradually increase range of motion will help get your knee and surrounding leg into a good position to bring you quickly back into your pre-injury shape.