What Is a Contusion? Bone Contusions, Muscle Contusions, and Causes

A contusion is a condition where a person has an injury. A contusion can also be called a bruise.

Contusions are a type of hematoma — any collection of blood outside a blood vessel. A contusion is when blood leaks from the area around you because capillaries and blood vessels have been damaged.

Anyone can get a contusion, but we’ll explain how contusions can affect your bones and soft tissues differently, along with how each type of contusion is treated.

You probably think of bruises as those reddened spots on your skin. You can develop a bone contusion or bone bruise.

Your bones are composed of tissue and blood vessels, just like the rest. A blood vessel can become obstructed if it is injured. Bone contusions may be caused by hard falls, car accidents, and high-impact sports injuries.

A bone contusion is characterized by:

  • Stiffness or swelling
  • tenderness
  • Trouble bending over or using the affected area
  • Pain that lasts longer then the typical symptoms of a bruise

Bone contusions are difficult to detect even with an Xray. To diagnose it, your doctor may rule out fractures as a possible cause.

An MRI scan may be done to get a better picture of bone contusions.

It can take bone bruises a few weeks to heal by themselves, depending on how severe they are.

Your doctor might recommend that you take nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), as you heal. These include ibuprofen (Advil and Motrin). These drugs can be helpful in relieving pain. For swelling reduction, you can apply a cool pack for 15 to 20 mins to the area several times per day.

Soft tissue contusions refer to injuries to your muscle and skin tissue. When people refer to a simple bruise, this is what they mean.

Because they are distinct, soft tissue contusions can be easier to diagnose than bone conusions.

  • Skin discoloration that makes it appear red, green, violet, blue or black
  • Sometimes, there may be a bump in the area.
  • pain that’s usually worse when pressure is applied to the area

While both muscle and skin tissue contusions cause pain, muscle tissue contusions are usually more painful, especially if they affect a muscle that you can’t avoid using.

Many things can cause a soft tissue contusion — from bumping into the table to twisting your ankle. After having your blood drawn, or taking intravenous medication (IV), you may notice one.

Most contusions heal in a matter of days.

Soft tissue contusions may take anywhere from a few weeks to heal. Bone contusions may take longer — usually a couple of months — depending on how severe the injury is.

You can use the RICE protocol to manage both types of bruises.

RICE stands as:

  • Rest.If possible, take a break.
  • Ice.Use a cold compress on the affected area to reduce swelling. Repeat this process several times per day for between 15 and 20 minutes. A cloth must be placed between the compress and your skin. Frostbite and ice burns can quickly occur if skin comes in contact with cold sources.
  • Compress.To reduce swelling, wrap the area in a bandage or wrap. Just make sure you don’t wrap it so tight that it starts to affect your circulation.
  • Elevate.Lift the injured area higher than your heart if possible. This will help drain the blood from the affected area.

Your doctor may recommend additional treatment if you have a bone fracture.

  • A temporary brace is worn
  • Increase your intakes of vitamin D as well as calcium. These are essential nutrients for bone health.

Don’t try to drain blood from a concussion with a needle, or any other sharp object. It won’t help you heal any faster, and it’ll raise your chances of the injury getting infected.

Contact your doctor if you don’t start noticing any improvements in your pain or swelling after a few days.

You’ve probably had a contusion before — it’s just the medical term for a common bruise.

Bruises can happen on your skin, muscles, or bones.

If you’ve had any type of injury and you’re concerned about the bruising, you can always reach out to a doctor for advice. You should seek medical attention immediately if the injury is severe, or you feel you might have been hit on your head.

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