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Bone Bruise in Children

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jan 5, 2023.

A bone bruise is an injury to your child's bone that is not a fracture. A bone bruise happens when the bone gets several small cracks. Blood and fluid collect just under the cracks. Ligaments near the bone bruise are also commonly damaged. A bone bruise can happen in any bone but usually happens in bones just under the skin. The most common areas are the knee and ankle. A bone bruise may take a few weeks or months to heal.


Return to the emergency department if:

  • Your child's leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
  • Your child's symptoms spread beyond the injured area.
  • Your child has severe pain and swelling near the injury.

Contact your child's healthcare provider if:

  • Your child has a fever.
  • Your child has new or worsening symptoms.
  • Your child's pain or swelling does not get better after 3 days of treatment.
  • Your child feels pain when he or she stretches the injured area.
  • The skin over your child's injury is pale or cool to the touch.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.


Your child may need any of the following:

  • Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask your child's healthcare provider how to give this medicine safely. Some prescription pain medicines contain acetaminophen. Do not give your child other medicines that contain acetaminophen without talking to his or her healthcare provider. Too much acetaminophen may cause liver damage. Prescription pain medicine may cause constipation. Ask your child's healthcare provider how to prevent or treat constipation.
  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If your child takes blood thinner medicine, always ask if NSAIDs are safe for him or her. Always read the medicine label and follow directions. Do not give these medicines to children younger than 6 months without direction from a healthcare provider.
  • Do not give aspirin to children younger than 18 years. Your child could develop Reye syndrome if he or she has the flu or a fever and takes aspirin. Reye syndrome can cause life-threatening brain and liver damage. Check your child's medicine labels for aspirin or salicylates.
  • Give your child's medicine as directed. Contact your child's healthcare provider if you think the medicine is not working as expected. Tell the provider if your child is allergic to any medicine. Keep a current list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs your child takes. Include the amounts, and when, how, and why they are taken. Bring the list or the medicines in their containers to follow-up visits. Carry your child's medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Manage your child's bone bruise:

  • Have your child rest the area to help it heal. Rest will allow your child's body to build new bone. Your child may be able to do light activities while he or she heals. Do not let your child put weight on the injured area or play contact sports for 3 to 5 days or as directed. Your child may need to use crutches or a cane if a leg is affected. Your child's healthcare provider may also recommend a brace or sling to prevent the area from moving.
  • Apply ice to reduce pain and swelling. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover the bag with a small towel before you apply it to your child's skin. Apply ice for 15 to 20 minutes every hour, or as directed.
  • Elevate the area to reduce pain and swelling. Prop the area on pillows to keep it elevated above the level of your child's heart comfortably.
  • Increase calcium and vitamin D as directed. Calcium and vitamin D work together to help build bone. Calcium is found in dairy products, such as milk and cheese. Spinach, salmon, and dried beans are also good sources of calcium. Cereal, bread, and orange juice may be fortified with vitamin D. Your child also gets vitamin D from exposure to sunlight.
  • Talk to your adolescent about not smoking. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can cause blood vessel damage and delay healing. Ask your adolescent's healthcare provider for information if he or she currently smokes and need helps to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your adolescent's healthcare provider before he or she uses these products.

Follow up with your child's doctor as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your child's visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.