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Contusions in Adults


Contusions (bruises) may appear as black and blue marks on your skin after an injury. A bruise happens when your blood vessels tear, but your skin does not. When blood vessels tear, blood leaks into nearby tissue, such as soft tissue or muscle.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.


  • You may cause tissue damage if you leave ice on a bruise for longer than 20 minutes at a time. Some bruises may scar your muscles. Scar tissue may make you more likely to get bruises in the future. Certain types of bone bruises may lead to osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis affects joints, such as the knees and shoulders, and can cause stiffness and pain. You may have a hematoma (swelling filled with blood) that does not get smaller, and need surgery to drain it. You may get a hernia if you get a tear in the thin layer of tissue that covers the muscle. A hernia happens when muscle and fatty tissue push through the tear.
  • Bony deposits may form within your muscles. You may also develop compartment syndrome. Compartment syndrome occurs when a hematoma or swelling at the injured site presses on nearby tissue. Muscles and blood vessels may be damaged. You may need surgery to relieve the pressure caused by swelling. If you do not get treatment for your bruise, it may not heal well. Treatment may decrease your pain, prevent further injury, such as muscle scarring, and help your bruise heal faster. Talk with your caregiver about questions or concerns that you have about your bruise, treatment, or medicines.


Informed consent:

A consent form is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.


  • Pain medicine: You may be given medicine to decrease or take away pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take your medicine.
  • Steroid medicine: Steroid medicine may be given to decrease redness, pain, and swelling.


  • Blood tests: You may need blood taken to give caregivers information about how your body is working. The blood may be taken from your hand, arm, or IV.
  • Imaging tests:
    • Magnetic resonance imaging: This test is also called an MRI. During an MRI, magnetic waves take pictures inside your body. An MRI can show damage to your bones, muscles, blood vessels, and other tissues. It can show if a hematoma has started to form. You may be given contrast (dye) in your vein to show the problem. You need to lie still during an MRI. Never enter the MRI room with any metal objects. This can cause serious injury.
    • Ultrasound: This test uses sound waves to see the bruise and how deep it is. It can show if any of your organs, such as your liver, are injured.
    • X-ray: An x-ray is a picture of a body part that shows any broken bones near the bruise.


Treatment depends on what tissues and organs in your body are injured, and how serious your injury is. You may need any of the following treatments:

  • Physical therapy: You may need to see a physical therapist to teach you special exercises. These exercises help improve movement and decrease pain. Physical therapy can also help improve strength and decrease your risk for loss of function.
  • Surgery: Caregivers may do surgery to drain blood from a hematoma that is very large or is not getting smaller. Surgery may also repair a tear in the muscle or relieve pressure in the muscle caused by swelling.

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 Contusions in Adults (Inpatient Care)

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Further information

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