Stupid questions about minor injuries

Somehow, I’ve managed to live without breaking any bones, twisting anything, spraining anything - I’ve avoided injuries greater than scrapes and cuts.

And then last night I fell, and hit my knee. Hard. And it did get swollen. (I iced it and elevated it, and rested it more than usual (though not entiredly)). Most of the swelling did go down & if I do look at just that leg, I might not even notice anything wrong at all (but looking at both together you can tell that one is swollen). & it doesn’t currently hurt unless I poke at it (which I’m mostly avoiding).

But, I was wondering - why swelling? What’s going on under the skin that would make it puff up like that? Will it go down completely - and how long does that usually take? Once it does go down completely, is there going to be a permanent bump there or will my leg look normal again? Since it doesn’t hurt, do I need to see a doctor (would I know if it were broken?)?


Have you ever seen the movie “alien”?

If it were broken, [you] would know.

Any fracturing in the area of a joint results in limited motion, and an excruciating amount of pain. The edema (swelling) is a result of trauma to the soft tissue of the area. Broken blood vessels are surrounded with other cells, and the body routes blood to the area to try and heal it. Hemoglobin and platelets account for the body’s method of both protecting and healing an injury. Without the swelling there, the traumatized area would be more exposed and more liable to be traumatized again.

In the same way that if you smack your arm, you’ll watch it turn red, and heat….you’ll watch an injury fill with blood to sustain and recuperate.

Going to a doctor is normally not necessary. Keep in mind that the knee is a very susceptible area to injury, but is also very resilient for the same reason. Keeping ice or heat on the area for twenty minutes or so, and then making slow motions with it will help the healing of the joint itself (modalities), while also reducing the swelling. Ibuprofen is also a wonderful thing for reducing swelling and pain. If the pain is localized and merely from pressure, all that you have is hematoma (bruising) and just need to let the swelling subside and heal.

P.S. I can’t take credit for this (I have clever friends), but I hope the information helps.

IANAD, but I’ve had plenty of bumps, scrapes, sprains, tears, and a few broken bones. In my understanding of things, blood rushes to the site of the injury in order to aid in the repair of the damaged tissue. White blood cells to fight any possible infection, and red to provide more oxygen, promote healing, etc. If it was something like a bad sprain of your ankle, another reason it might swell would be a burst bursa sac. I did this to my left ankle about a year ago, tearing a ligament playing basketball, and you could actually see my ankle swell to at least twice its normal size. I couldn’t walk for almost a month without serious pain. But anyway, I’ve talked enough about me… let’s hear you talk about me. :slight_smile:

I don’t want to sound alarmist, but if the knee keeps hurting or stays swollen for longer than a week, I’d say take it to a doctor and see what they have to say. It’s always possible, though not very likely, that you might have torn something inside your knee. It’s better to get it taken care of soon, and not risk the chance of further injury. I’ve had friends who have had 3 or 4 knee surguries and are not yet 30 years old.

Hope it feels better soon!


Please completely disregard my post, alciabiades beat me to it and explained it better, too!

P.S. Welcome to the SDMB, alciabiades. I can already tell I’m going to have trouble spelling your name. :slight_smile: