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A contusion is injury to the muscle, bone or soft tissue of the body. It usually results from blunt force trauma, and certain types of contusions are simply called bruises. Most people won’t make it through life without the occasional bruise that might occur from bumping into something. More serious injuries that affect bone or muscle can be very significant, but a small simple bruise is usually of little concern.
As mentioned, there are three different types of contusion that may occur. Soft tissue contusions cause skin discoloration, as blood vessels may bleed directly under the skin. This can create a virtual rainbow of colors and a bruise might look brown, red, blue, purple, or yellow. Provided the contusion is small and not located in a potentially dangerous area, like the head, it may require no treatment at all. Bruising may be minimized by using ice or a cold pack directly after an injury occurs.
Sometimes people appear to get soft tissue contusion types regularly. They may not even realize they’ve had any type of injury until they notice a bruise. This could be the result of taking things like anti-coagulants, which may thin the blood or make it clot slower. Some bleeding disorders like hemophilia might also result in significant bleeding that creates huge bruises, and occasionally people who are anemic may have higher bruising incidence. Anyone at higher risk should follow doctor’s directions for treating small contusions; the use of ice is definitely recommended, and any injuries to the head need to be treated as potentially life threatening.
Other types of contusion can occur in people with or without special conditions. A muscle bruise injures the muscles, and there may be a perceptible lump at the site of the injury. This can cause cramping, stiffness, and considerable pain in the affected area. These are not uncommon in certain contact sports, though they can occur in other settings.
Generally the most severe type of contusion is the bone bruise. This isn’t an actual break, but it can be extremely uncomfortable. People may need x-rays to rule out any broken bones because pain can be severe, and it may inhibit movement just as a break would. A severe bone bruise can last for a very long time, and people might require physical therapy to help preserve or enhance range of motion in the area of injury.
The average small contusion may not require a lot of treatment. Suspected muscle and bone contusions are more serious and usually need to be brought to the attention of a doctor. It’s very important to realize that bruising may occur when a broken bone is present. A broken toe can cause the foot to look almost black in color. While waiting to see a doctor, people should follow the RICE method of treatment (rest, ice, compression, elevation). This may also be advocated after doctor’s care to promote comfort and facilitate healing.