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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. Blood leaks into nearby tissue, such as soft tissue or muscle.


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.

Call your doctor 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.


You may need 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. Ask your healthcare provider how to take this medicine safely. Some prescription pain medicines contain acetaminophen. Do not take other medicines that contain acetaminophen without talking to your healthcare provider. Too much acetaminophen may cause liver damage. Prescription pain medicine may cause constipation. Ask your healthcare provider how to prevent or treat constipation.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

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.

Prevent another contusion:

  • Stretch and warm up before you play sports or exercise.
  • Wear protective gear when you play sports. Examples are shin guards and padding.
  • If you begin a new physical activity, start slowly to give your body a chance to adjust.

Follow up with your doctor as directed:

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

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2021 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.

Learn more about Contusion in Adults (Discharge Care)

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