The Collegiate Scare:
Knee pain felt by the La Jolla tennis player or San Diego soccer player is no different than the pain felt by collegiate athletes.
The athletes that are fortunate enough to make it to the professional level require a number of things: Physical gifts, talent, mental toughness, work ethic, and sometimes most importantly, luck. There have been many college athletes who were destined for greatness but had that destiny changed after a devastating injury. Navy’s star quarterback Keenan Reynolds can breathe a sigh of relief as he nearly completely dodged the injury bug. Last week Keenan Reynolds led his Navy team to victory over Temple, but with a serious scare as he took a helmet directly to the side of his knee. His knee twisted and from the looks of it the injury had the potential to be serious. As it turns out, his injury was just a simple knee contusion, or in layman’s terms a knee bruise.
Knee contusions are typically due to direct contact to the knee. In the case of Keenan Reynolds, this was a helmet to the knee, but for others this could be due to the knee hitting the ground during a fall. Symptoms of a knee contusion involve pain, tenderness, swelling, and bruising on the surface of the skin. The actual bruising on the surface of the skin is caused by damage to blood vessels in the knee.
A knee contusion generally does not require any additional medical attention. However, similar symptoms can exist in more severe injuries such as ligament damage and muscle damage, so if you fear that the injury is severe, please visit your family physician or your osteopathic doctor.
Treatment for a knee contusion is pretty standard and utilizes the RICE method: Rest, ice, compress, and elevate. It is important to rest the injured knee to prevent ongoing strain and worsening of symptoms. You should apply ice for 10-20 minutes at a time, each hour. You can slowly reduce the frequency you ice it as the symptoms regress. Utilize an elastic bandage for compression and be sure to keep the leg elevated as much as possible. The RICE method is a good way to reduce the pain, swelling, and inflammation associated with the bruised knee. If the symptoms persist for more than a few days for a minor contusion it is best to get checked out to eliminate any confounding problems such as ligament damage or damage to the muscles that surround the knee. For severe contusions, the symptoms can last weeks, but if managed properly there should be a noticeable improvement during that period.
Thankfully, Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds dodged a bullet, walking away relatively unscathed after taking a helmet to his knee. If he follows the treatment guideline of rest, ice, elevation, and compression, there is a very good chance we will see the star quarterback on the field this weekend against Western Kentucky.