What is a contusion?

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A contusion occurs if a damaged blood vessel or capillary seeps out blood into the surrounding area. The injury is a form of hematoma which refers to any accumulation of blood outside a blood vessel.

Contusion on the bone

A bruise on a bone or bone contusion can occur. Once the bone is damaged, one or several blood vessels leak out blood. A vehicular accident, hard fall or sports injury can result to a bone contusion.

The usual signs of a bone contusion include:

  • Tenderness
  • Swelling or stiffness
    An ice pack can also be applied on the site for 15-20 minutes several times throughout the day to lessen the swelling.
  • Difficulty bending or using the affected area
  • Pain or discomfort that persists longer than the signs of a usual bruise

This type of bruise might take a few days to several months to settle, depending on the severity of the injury. As the injury heals, the doctor might suggest non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to relieve the pain. An ice pack can also be applied on the site for 15-20 minutes several times throughout the day to lessen the swelling.

Muscle or skin tissue

A soft tissue contusion involves damage to the skin or muscle tissue. The usual signs of injury include:

  • Skin discoloration that appears green, red, blue, purple or black
  • Small-sized bump over the site in some cases
  • Pain or discomfort that generally worsens if pressure is placed on the site

If the muscle is affected, it is more painful especially if a muscle that is always used is affected.


Most cases require time to recuperate. A soft tissue contusion might take a few days to weeks to heal. As for the bone contusions, it can take 1-2 months to heal depending on the seriousness of the injury.

While recovering, the RICE method is used to manage the symptoms:

  • Rest
  • Ice – apply an ice pack to lessen the swelling, usually 15-20 minutes several times throughout the day.
  • Compress – bandage or wrap the site to lessen the swelling
  • Elevate – raise the affected area above the heart to promote the drainage of blood from the site of injury

Quick Note / Disclaimer

The material posted on this page on a contusion is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to manage this injury, register for a first aid and CPR course with Red Deer First Aid.

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