Community Health Network

Ranked among the nation's most integrated healthcare systems, Community Health Network is Central Indiana's leader in providing convenient access to exceptional healthcare services, where and when patients need them—in hospitals, health pavilions, workplaces, schools and homes.

Explore Community

Close
Knee Injury  
Back to Index

Does this describe your symptoms?

Click image for
more info
First Aid - Bleeding Leg
First Aid - Bleeding Leg

First Aid - R.I.C.E.
First Aid - R.I.C.E.

Definition
  • Injury to a bone, muscle, joint or ligament of the knee

Types of Injuries

  • Contusion (bruise) - A direct blow or crushing injury results in bruising of the skin, muscle, and underlying bone
  • Dislocation (bone out of joint)
  • Dislocation of patella (kneecap out of joint)
  • Fracture (broken bones)
  • Sprain - Stretches and tears of ligaments
  • Strain - Stretches and tears of muscles (pulled muscle)
  • Quadriceps tendon rupture - There is pain in the insertion of the quadriceps muscle into the patella (area just above knee cap). There is weakness or inability to extend the knee fully (e.g., while sitting down on chair can't straighten knee).

If not, see these topics

First Aid:

FIRST AID Advice for Bleeding: Apply direct pressure to the entire wound with a clean cloth.

FIRST AID Advice for Penetrating Object: If penetrating object still in place, don't remove it (Reason: removal could increase bleeding).

FIRST AID Advice for Shock: Lie down with feet elevated.

FIRST AID Advice for Sprained Knee:

  • Apply a cold pack or an ice bag (wrapped in a moist towel) to the area for 20 minutes.
  • Wrap knee with an elastic bandage.
When to Call Your Doctor

Call 911 Now (you may need an ambulance) If
  • Major bleeding (actively bleeding or spurting) that can't be stopped
  • Injury looks like a dislocated joint (crooked or deformed)
  • NOTE: For bleeding, see First Aid
Call Your Doctor Now (night or day) If
  • You think you have a serious injury
  • Severe pain
  • Severe swelling
  • You can't stand (bear weight) or walk
Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours (between 9 am and 4 pm) If
  • You think you need to be seen
  • A snap or pop was heard at the time of injury
  • There is a large swelling or bruise (wider than 2 inches) at the site of the injury
  • You are limping
  • You are over age 54, have osteoporosis, or use steroid medications routinely
Call Your Doctor During Weekday Office Hours If
  • You have other questions or concerns
  • Injury interferes with work or school
  • Injury and pain have not improved after 3 days
  • Injury is still painful and swollen after 2 weeks
Self Care at Home If
  • Minor bruise
  • Minor strained (pulled) muscle or sprained (stretched) ligament
HOME CARE ADVICE FOR MINOR BRUISE, SPRAIN OR STRAIN

  1. Treatment of Bruise (e.g., direct blow to knee area):
    • Apply a cold pack or an ice bag (wrapped in a moist towel) for 20 minutes each hour for 4 consecutive hours. (20 minutes of cold followed by 40 minutes of rest for 4 hours in a row).
    • 48 hours after the injury, use local heat for 10 minutes 3 times each day to help reabsorb the blood.
    • Rest the injured part as much as possible for 48 hours.
  2. Treatment of Sprains and Strains of Knee:
    • FIRST AID - Wrap with a snug elastic bandage. Apply an ice pack (crushed ice in a plastic bag covered with a moist towel) to reduce bleeding, swelling, and pain.
    • Treat with R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) for the first 24 to 48 hours.
      • REST the injured leg for 24 hours. You may return to normal activity after 24 hours of rest if the activity does not cause pain.
      • Continue to apply crushed ICE packs for 10-20 minutes every hour for the first 4 hours. Then apply ice for 10-20 minutes 4 times a day for the first two days.
      • Apply COMPRESSION by wrapping the injured part with a snug, elastic bandage for 48 hours. If you experience numbness, tingling, or increased pain in the injured part, the bandage may be too tight. Loosen the bandage wrap.
      • Keep injured leg ELEVATED and at rest for 24 hours. Put your leg up on a pillow and stay off your feet as much as possible.
  3. Pain Medication:
    • For pain relief, take acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
    • Acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol): The dose is 650 mg by mouth every 4 hours or 1000 mg by mouth every 6 hours. Maximum dose per day = 4000 mg.
    • Ibuprofen (e.g., Motrin, Advil): The dose is 400 mg by mouth every 6 hours or 600 mg by mouth every 8 hours.
    • People who are over 65 Years of age: Acetaminophen is generally considered safer than ibuprofen. Acetaminophen dosing interval should be increased to every 8 hours because of reduced liver metabolism. Maximum dose per day = 3000 mg.
    • CAUTION: Do not take ibuprofen if you have stomach problems, kidney disease, are pregnant, or have been told by your doctor to avoid this type of anti-inflammatory drug. Do not take ibuprofen for more than 7 days without consulting your doctor.
    • CAUTION: Do not take acetaminophen if you have liver disease.
    • Read the package instructions thoroughly on all medications that you take.
  4. Expected Course: Pain and swelling usually begin to improve 2 or 3 days after an injury. Swelling is usually gone in 7 days. Pain may take 2 weeks to completely resolve.
  5. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Pain becomes severe
    • Pain does not improve after 3 days
    • Pain or swelling lasts more than 2 weeks
    • You become worse

And remember, contact your doctor if you develop any of the "Call Your Doctor" symptoms.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.


Author and Senior Reviewer: David A. Thompson, M.D.

Last Reviewed: 1/19/2009

Last Revised: 4/5/2008

Content Set: Adult HouseCalls Online

Portions Copyright 2000-2009 Self Care Decisions LLC; Copyright LMS, Inc.

Proud sponsors

  • Indiana Fever
  • Indianapolis Indians
  • Indiana Pacers
  • Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing
  • Indy Eleven

Health and wellness shopping

  • Home Health Medical online store for medical supplies and equipment
  • Wellspring Pharmacy
  • FigLeaf Boutique
  • Jasmine gift shop