Hemarthrosis – Causes, Symptoms & Treatment


hemarthrosis is the medical name for one Bruise in the knee. It comes as a result of a knee injury to the accumulation of blood in the joint.

Table of Contents

What is a hemarthrosis?

Under the term hemarthrosis is a bruise in the knee called. The term is to be distinguished from the term hematoma, in which there is a build-up of blood in all parts of the body. A bruise is the discharge of blood from an injured blood vessel.

This is followed by the deposition of the blood in a body cavity or in the tissue. The bruise becomes visible through a bruise, which forms in the case of a hemarthrosis on the knee. The blood can no longer be removed from the veins. Therefore, the knee fills with blood, which leads to its thickening. In the course of the blue spot takes on a yellowish color and then goes back again.


Some sports are considered particularly risky for the development of a hemarthrosis. These include primarily football and skiing. The same applies to other sports in which the knee and leg are exposed to heavy loads. The knee also has the increased risk of rotation trauma. Twisting the lower leg to the thigh too strong, threatening injury to the menisci, the collateral ligaments or cruciate ligaments.

The range of injuries ranges from ligament strain to torn ligaments. The jerky injuries often also affect the blood vessels that cross the knee. This in turn causes bruising in the adjacent tissue as well as the knee cavities.

Not infrequently, a hemarthrosis but also by external influences in which the kneecap (patella) or the bones are involved, caused. Responsible for this are mostly heavy falls. Hemarthrosis may be caused by a slight bruise as well as by a bone fracture.

Occasionally knee surgery is also responsible for the formation of a hemarthrosis. The operation is classified by the body as an injury. Even taking certain medicines can be the reason for a hemarthrosis. If this is the case, the attending physician must prescribe another drug. It is not always possible to find a specific cause of a bruise in the knee. Thus, the hemarthrosis then shows up without a previous injury.

Symptoms, complaints & sign

The symptoms of a hemarthrosis depend on the extent of bruising. If the bruising is only minor, sufferers only suffer from pressure pain and a slight swelling. A typical feature of hemarthrosis is a bluish discoloration of the knee. First, the injured area assumes a reddish discoloration, which turns into blue and yellow in the further course.

If the hemarthrosis is extensive, this is often noticeable through permanent and severe pain. Doctors also speak of a tension pain. It is caused by the spreading of the swelling caused by the bruise. In addition, restricted mobility of the knee.

diagnosis & disease

If there is a hemarthrosis in the knee, a medical examination is recommended. There is a risk of further injuries to the joint or the bones and severe pain. The physician can be described by the patient the course of the injury. This is often enough to make the right diagnosis.

If the hemarthrosis is located at a deeper place, sonography (ultrasound examination) may be required. The course of a hemarthrosis depends on how fast therapy is started. Thus, the lesions can usually be kept low by early treatment. Without rapid therapy, permanent restrictions on movement and damage to the cartilage are threatened.


The affected area turns red or blue and can also pulsate. If the hemarthrosis is left untreated, pain usually does not disappear on its own and results in a reduction in the patient’s quality of life. Furthermore, there are also restrictions in the movement, which can often lead to mental discomfort. The daily life of the person concerned is made more difficult and the carrying out of ordinary activities is thus no longer possible without further ado.

In most cases, no direct treatment of the hemarthrosis is necessary and it disappears again by itself. Should it have been a serious accident, the examination by a doctor may be necessary. However, there are no special complications or serious complaints. Also the life expectancy is not influenced by the hemarthrosis.

When should you go to the doctor?

A haemarthrosis is usually harmless and will stop itself after a few days. Medical advice is needed if the bruise persists for more than a week. If severe pain or other symptoms occur, the hemarthrosis must be examined in any case. Maybe the bruise squeezes a nerve or presses on the surrounding tissue. Greater effusions can also cause severe pain and restricted mobility requiring the use of analgesics and anti-inflammatories.

Furthermore, you should go to the doctor with a hemarthrosis if concomitant further injuries exist or it has already come repeatedly to the occurrence of a bruise. If the hemarthrosis occurs after a knee surgery, the responsible physician should be informed. Patients with chronic joint disease or prolonged sports injuries should also talk to the doctor and have their complaints cleared up. Further contacts are the orthopedist, a sports physician or a specialist in joint diseases. For severe complaints, a visit to the hospital is indicated.

treatment & therapy

In most people, a hemarthrosis returns by itself, which only takes a few days. The leaked blood coagulates and the organism breaks it down with the help of enzymes. Due to the different decomposition products it comes to changing discoloration in red, blue and yellow.

To counteract swelling of the knee, the patient should cool the joint immediately after the accident. In this way, the blood vessels contract and the bleeding decreases or even comes to a total standstill. Since the bruise in the knee can not spread further, the swelling takes on smaller proportions.

The doctor decides on further therapy. If the cause of the hemarthrosis is corrected, it usually requires no further treatment. Thus, the bruise in the knee is completely back after two to three weeks. To treat the pain, a special hematoma tape can be applied to the knee, making the healing process faster.

Sometimes it is also possible that the hemarthrosis can not heal by itself. In such cases, a joint puncture is made. In doing so, the doctor punctures the joint with a thin needle and sucks off the blood. As a rule, the patient feels an immediate improvement. Furthermore, an arthroscopy (knee joint mirroring) can take place.

Here you will find your medication


To avoid hemarthrosis, exercise caution is advised. So the knee should be protected with special schooners from falls.


The aftercare aims to prevent the recurrence of complaints. This is well known of cancer. Scheduled follow-up examinations are there to detect a tumor in the early stages and thereby enable the best possible treatment. The follow-up care for a hemarthrosis, however, consists in preventive measures.

This should avoid the disease-causing causes. In concrete terms this means that over-exertion should be avoided in sports activities such as football and skiing. The doctor informs about the dangers during the initial diagnosis. However, the implementation of the behavioral recommendations is the responsibility of the patient.

In the case of an unfavorable course, a hemarthrosis can lead to a long-term treatment. This goes back to lasting damage. The typical symptoms then include movement restrictions and pain. The medical services then include physiotherapy. Scheduled follow-up examinations, which document the progress of the illness, are arranged individually.

Their rhythm depends on the complaint situation. To determine the ultrasound is suitable. Even in deep places, a hemarthrosis can be visualized. Furthermore, the presented symptoms of the patient allow a diagnosis. In any case, the aftercare aims to prevent the transition to osteoarthritis. This complication can cause further instabilities.

You can do that yourself

Depending on which injury is diagnosed, various self-help measures can then be taken. Ligament extension and torn ligaments require medical therapy. The affected person can not do much here, except to protect the knee and to take the routine examinations in the doctor’s office. Bruises usually heal themselves after medical treatment. It is sufficient to cool the hemarthrosis and not to burden the affected knee as possible. Quark packs and other home remedies may speed healing.

An operation-related hemarthrosis must be presented immediately to the responsible physician. After an operation, the knee should be well monitored to prevent re-bruising and concomitant complications.

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Christina Cherry
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