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How do I Treat a Leg Bruise?

By M. DePietro
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A leg bruise, which is a very common leg injury, can usually be treated at home by elevating and resting the leg, using ice, and taking over-the-counter pain relievers. Most leg bruises or contusions will not require a trip to the doctor and heal within a few weeks. Treatment may only be needed the first few days to reduce leg pain.

Tiny blood vessels under the skin can rupture after a bump to the leg. When the vessels rupture, they leak blood, which pools under the skin and causes the discoloration of a bruise. Although there is not a bruise cure, treatment can reduce pain and swelling.

One of the first things that can be done to treat a bruise on the leg is applying ice. The ice should be applied to a bruise on and off for the first 24 hours to reduce swelling and leg pain. Avoid putting the ice directly on the bruise because this can lead to frostbite. Wrap the ice in a towel before applying it to the bruise. Keep the ice on the bruise for up to 20 minutes at a time and reapply every few hours.

Heat can also be used to treat a bruise after the first 24 hours. The heat may relieve pain and can help the bruise heal more quickly by promoting the blood to be cleared away. A hot washcloth or heating pad should be used. Sitting in a warm tub may also help. Apply the heat for about 20 minutes, about three times a day.

A large leg bruise or leg contusion can be elevated to reduce swelling. Prop the leg up on two or three pillows, while resting or lying in bed. This will usually only be needed for the first 24 hours when swelling is most likely to develop.

Pain associated with a leg bruise can usually be treated with over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen. Consult your doctor before taking aspirin, as it can slow down the time it takes the blood to clot. Aspirin can also increase the bleeding under the skin.

Most bruises will go away on their own and do not require professional medical evaluation, however, there are signs a call to the doctor may be needed. A very large bruise that interferes with movement may need to be evaluated by a doctor. If a painful bruise develops after leg surgery, a physician should be contacted. If signs of an infection develop, such as increased redness or the bruise becomes red, swollen and hot, it may indicate an infection has developed.

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Discussion Comments
By giddion — On Aug 07, 2012

I started bruising easily on my legs when I was fourteen. The slightest little bump could cause a disproportionately dark bruise.

My doctor told me that I needed to be eating more nutritious foods. He said that if I increased the amount of vitamin C in my diet, then I should stop bruising so easily.

He also said that I needed to put on a little weight. Fat acts like a cushion to protect our blood vessels from bruising, and I just didn't have enough of it.

My mother started forcing me to eat fruits and vegetables, and I noticed that I began to resist bruising from little injuries. She also made me eat more lean protein, and I did put on a little weight, which I'm sure helped.

By seag47 — On Aug 07, 2012

@healthy4life – I got a bone bruise in my leg from a car accident. Acetaminophen would not have done anything to help the pain from this. I think it was the worst pain I have ever felt, and it lasted a long time.

Since I had just been in a wreck, the ambulance took me to the hospital, where I got x-rays on my leg. I hadn't broken anything, but I had bruised my tibia.

I got some pretty strong painkillers, and I took them regularly for the first few days. After that, the pain had become more of a dull ache, and I didn't really need to take anything to make it bearable.

By healthy4life — On Aug 06, 2012

I never knew I wasn't supposed to be taking aspirin to treat pain from bruises! I'm glad I read this article. Now I can switch to acetaminophen and prevent excess bleeding.

I've never had a leg bruise severe enough to require prescription painkillers, so I've always taken over-the-counter stuff. My cousin did have a bruised knee that was bad enough for her doctor to give her the strong stuff, though.

By cloudel — On Aug 06, 2012

I get bruises on my legs all the time. I have two large dogs, and they are extremely playful. They don't know their own strength, and they often ram into my legs at top speed, causing some pretty ugly bruises.

Sometimes, they only hit me hard enough to cause a small bruise. I usually don't do anything to treat these.

However, when they hit me hard enough to cause significant pain, I go get some ice and wrap it in a towel. I put it on my leg for fifteen minutes right after the impact, and this seems to help prevent a severe bruise from forming.

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