Q. I was playing basketball last week, fell on my left knee and had to stop playing due to pain. That night, my knee swelled and it has remained swollen.
I saw my physician, who ordered an MRI. The MRI showed I had a bone bruise. The doctor instructed me to rest. How long till the pain and swelling go away and when do you think I can play again?
A. A bone bruise or “stress reaction” is a micro fracture of bone resulting in pain, swelling and limited range of motion.
There are several mechanisms of injury that result in bone bruises including direct trauma, a ligament tear with instability or overuse that exceeds the structural support of the affected bone.
About a third of the time, X-rays reveal the injury but usually an MRI scan is necessary to confirm the diagnosis and the degree of the bone bruise. Direct blows from a fall, such as yours, can take a few days to two months until you are able to go back to sports.
A return to sports from bone bruises due to the other causes depends upon the mechanism of injury, degree of injury and which bone is involved.
I recommend you see an orthopedic surgeon who can more accurately give you an exact diagnosis and a timetable to feel better and return to competition.