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Contusion in Adults


A contusion

is a bruise that appears on your skin after an injury. A bruise happens when small blood vessels tear but skin does not. When blood vessels tear, blood leaks into nearby tissue, such as soft tissue or muscle.

Other signs and symptoms you may have with a contusion:

  • Pain that increases when you touch the bruise, walk, or use the area around the bruise
  • Swelling or a lump at the site of the bruise or near it
  • Red, blue, or black skin that may change to green or yellow after a few days

  • Stiffness or problems moving the bruised area of your body

Seek care immediately if:

  • You have new trouble moving the injured area.
  • You have tingling or numbness in or near the injured area.
  • Your hand or foot below the bruise gets cold or turns pale.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You find a new lump in the injured area.
  • Your symptoms do not improve with treatment after 4 to 5 days.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Treatment for a contusion

may include any of the following:

  • 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 you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.
  • Prescription pain medicine may be given. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take your medicine.
  • Aspiration is a procedure used to drain pooled blood in your muscle. This may help prevent increased pressure in the muscle.
  • Surgery may be done to repair a tear in the muscle or relieve pressure in the muscle caused by swelling.

Help a contusion heal:

  • Rest the injured area or use it less than usual. If you bruised your leg or foot, you may need crutches or a cane to help you walk. This will help you keep weight off your injured body part.
  • Apply ice to decrease swelling and pain. Ice may also help prevent tissue damage. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel and place it on your bruise for 15 to 20 minutes every hour or as directed.
  • Use compression to support the area and decrease swelling. Wrap an elastic bandage around the area over the bruised muscle. Make sure the bandage is not too tight. You should be able to fit 1 finger between the bandage and your skin.
  • Elevate (raise) your injured body part above the level of your heart to help decrease pain and swelling. Use pillows, blankets, or rolled towels to elevate the area as often as you can.
  • Do not drink alcohol as directed. Alcohol may slow healing.
  • Do not stretch injured muscles right after your injury. Ask your healthcare provider when and how you may safely stretch after your injury. Gentle stretches can help increase your flexibility.
  • Do not massage the area or put heating pads on the bruise right after your injury. Heat and massage may slow healing. Your healthcare provider may tell you to apply heat after several days. At that time, heat will start to help the injury heal.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

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

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2018 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or IBM Watson Health

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.

Learn more about Contusion in Adults (Ambulatory Care)

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