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We all are familiar with skin bruise, which occurs when an internal injury1 like a blood vessel injury causes skin discolouration by leaving a black and blue mark on the skin. There are several reasons why a person can get skin bruises. These bruises can be painful or painless.
Similarly, there can be bruises on the muscles. These bruises are known as intramuscular bruises2 and are caused when a person’s muscle fibres are hurt.
But have you ever thought about whether bruises can occur in the bones or what is a bone bruise or if is it even possible to get a bone bruise?
Yes, it is possible to get bone bruises. These bone bruises are also contusions and are sometimes confused with bone fractures. But these two are different, and it is important to know their differences.
So here is a detailed guide on a bone bruise, its symptoms, causes and what a bone bruise effects on a person.
What is a bone bruise?
Speaking of bone bruises, the very first question that arises is, “ What is a bone bruise?” Bone bruises are also termed microfractures or bone contusions3. They occur when the fibrous tissue called trabeculae breaks partially in a region. Fully damage to these trabeculae leads to a bone fracture. A bone bruise is less severe than a bone fracture.
Most bone bruises are difficult to diagnose since they can’t be detected using X-rays. The symptoms of a bone bruise 4are similar to those of a bone fracture, but to get the exact idea, an Orthopedic surgeon will recommend you to get the MRI scan, i.e. Magnetic Resonance imaging scan done.
This MRI scan will also help trace the exact injured bone, which mere physical observations can’t trace. The severity of your bone’s damage can also be identified using the MRI scan, and thus you can get the correct treatment. Bone bruises aren’t age-specific. Any person of any age group can get a bone bruise. The body parts at a higher risk of getting a bone bruise are the knees and heels.
Types of bone bruises
Generally, all bone bruises are accompanied by swelling, redness and pain in the adjoining area. All the bone bruises or contusions are accompanied by bleeding, causing a subperiosteal hematoma5.
Following are the major classifications of bone bruises:
- Subchondral: These are the bruises accompanied by swelling and bleeding between the cartilage 6and the bone beneath it.
- Intraosseous bone bruise: When bleeding and swelling occur in the medulla of the bone instead of the cartilage, then it is termed as an intraosseous bone bruise.
Any injury in the bone or joint such as the one that occurred due to indulging in physical activities such as sports injuries, motor vehicle accidents, or twisting of the ankle or wrist, can cause a bone bruise.
Amongst all the people, athletes are the ones who are the most prone to getting bone bruises. People with a medical history of fractures also need to be careful about bone injuries and consult the doctor in case of complications.
You should consume a diet rich in calcium and Vitamin D rich food to keep the bones healthy. Vitamin D is required to absorb calcium from food. Milk, green vegetables, and nuts are rich in calcium. A very good source of Vitamin D is sunlight.
Bone bruises may or may not be severe, depending upon the extent of damage caused. In some cases, even the bone dies because of the lack of blood flow in that area. This condition is termed avascular necrosis, and to avoid this, you should be cautious regarding your injury and its healing.
Bone bruise symptoms
Bone bruise symptoms include
- Swelling of the adjoining region and the soft tissues around it.
- Pain that lasts for a long time as compared to soft tissue injury
- Redness in the area.
- Formation of a hard lump
Don’t ignore any such symptoms and take immediate actions to prevent any mishaps. It is best to consult a doctor as soon as possible to get a more accurate diagnosis.
What are the treatment options?
Treating a bone contusion depends on factors such as the type of traumatic bone bruises,7 the severity of damage caused to the underlying bone or joint etc. Whatever the cause of the injury, you need to get the correct treatment done for a painless and fast recovery.
Following are the most common treatments for bone bruises as suggested by the doctors:
1) Appling ice packs on the injured area to reduce pain and swelling. An article published on bone bruises medically reviewed all the aspects related to bone injuries. It is concluded that immediately applying ice packs to the injured bone or the bone tissue fastens the healing process and reduces the swelling in the adjoining area.
2) Limiting the movement of the affected bone also helps the bone bruises heal faster. To limit bone movement, doctors suggest wearing braces, clutches, or sprints around the injured joint.
3) The doctors’ prescribed pain relief medicines help reduce the pain and fasten the healing time. To reduce swelling, taking medicine is also an option that can be considered.
Is it possible to avoid it?
Getting injured is something which isn’t in our hands. No one would try to harm himself/herself consciously; still, accidents do take place knowingly or unknowingly, which can cause various types of injury, including bone injury. It isn’t necessary that you are always at fault, but there are certain situations that you can’t avoid.
Though we can’t avoid accidents, taking a few precautions can minimize the effect of an accident. For example, wearing helmets and seat belts while driving and protective equipment while playing can help you avoid severe bone bruises.
What not to do when you have a bone contusion?
Generally, bone bruises take 1-2 months to heal. However, if the damage is severe, it can take more time than this. For a faster recovery, you should take the following precautions:
1) Avoid heavy physical activity, as it will delay bone healing. Make sure to limit the movement of the affected bone for a faster recovery. However, the doctor may suggest some very light exercises8 so that the movement of the bone isn’t permanently restricted. Doing these exercises regularly will also prove beneficial to you.
2) Don’t forget to meet your physical therapist regularly to keep track of the status of your injured joint. They will give a detailed report of your injury and will time to time, update you about what to do and what not to do. Also, take your medicines regularly.
3) Do not smoke or drink, as they will slow down the healing process.
4) Do not put pressure on the particular bone to avoid complications. This will strain the affected bone leading to slower recovery.
You might find it a little difficult to keep up with the precautions, but don’t forget that it is for your good, and in the long run, you would only benefit in the end. The journey is always difficult, but it is worth the happiness you will get. So keep going!!!
You shouldn’t be ignorant towards your injury, as a little negligence can worsen the situation. Though bone contusion isn’t a too serious condition, but if not given proper medical care and attention, it can lead to grave problems such as bone damage which is irreversible in nature. Get the proper treatment, and that too at the correct time to heal the injury on time.
Don’t get indulged in any such activity which can strain your muscles until you fully recover. Remember, haste makes waste and all good things need time. So be patient until your injury is fully healed, and prepare for the best outcomes.
- Cebelin, Marilyn S., and Charles S. Hirsch. “Human stress cardiomyopathy: myocardial lesions in victims of homicidal assaults without internal injuries.” Human pathology 11.2 (1980): 123-132. ↩︎
- Wetzel, Randall C., Anthony J. Slater, and George J. Dover. “Fatal intramuscular bleeding misdiagnosed as suspected nonaccidental injury.” Pediatrics 95.5 (1995): 771-773. ↩︎
- Saxena, Amol, and Colin Eakin. “Articular talar injuries in athletes: results of microfracture and autogenous bone graft.” The American journal of sports medicine 35.10 (2007): 1680-1687. ↩︎
- Vincken, Patrice WJ, et al. “Clinical consequences of bone bruise around the knee.” European radiology 16 (2006): 97-107. ↩︎
- Walter, J. Reimer, John A. Leenhouts, and Stanley W. Coulthard. “Clinical picture and management of subperiosteal hematoma of the orbit.” Journal of Pediatric Ophthalmology & Strabismus 13.3 (1976): 136-138. ↩︎
- Hayes, Donald W., Randall L. Brower, and Kelly J. John. “Articular cartilage: anatomy, injury, and repair.” Clinics in podiatric medicine and surgery 18.1 (2001): 35-53. ↩︎
- Mandalia, V., and J. H. L. Henson. “Traumatic bone bruising—a review article.” European journal of radiology 67.1 (2008): 54-61. ↩︎
- Vincent, Michelle A., et al. “Mixed meal and light exercise each recruit muscle capillaries in healthy humans.” American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism 290.6 (2006): E1191-E1197. ↩︎