Pain and knee function in relation to degree of bone bruise after acute anterior cruciate ligament rupture


Corresponding author: Kenneth Szkopek, Department of Arthroscopy and Sports Traumatology, Copenhagen University Hospital Bispebjerg, Bispebjerg Bakke 23, DK-2400 Copenhagen NV, Denmark. Tel: +45 28 76 59 49, Fax: +45 43 54 82 81, E-mail:


It is unknown whether the bone bruise that occurs in connection with acute anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) rupture is causing pain and dysfunction. We followed prospectively 17 patients [10 men, seven women, mean age 28 years (range 23–34)] with acute ACL rupture for 2 months. A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan was performed shortly after the injury, and at 2 weeks, 1 month and 2 months. The patients reported the level of pain every day and filled in a Knee injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score sheet in connection with MRI. For every MRI of the knee, volume of bone bruise was calculated, and intensity was visually graded. Our study showed a reduction of the pain to 50% approximately 2 weeks after the injury, at which time the bone bruise was at maximum. There was a significant relationship between pain and the volume and intensity of the bone bruise in the medial tibia condyle, as well as pain and the bone bruise volume of the lateral femoral condyle. Patients with bone bruise of the medial tibia and patients with meniscal lesions had more pain. It is suggested that pain and decreased function after acute ACL injury most likely is related to soft tissue and cartilage injury and not to bone bruise.