A contusion is a medical term for a bruise. It happens when blood vessels underneath your skin are broken, but the skin doesn’t break. It’s a black and blue mark that can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. It can happen to anyone, at any age.
Most often, it happens when a hard surface comes into contact with the skin. It can also happen when something falls on your arm and damages the soft tissues in your arm. The severity varies from mild cases that cause no pain or blurred vision to more severe cases.
In some cases, you cannot even move the affected limb or feel anything in it. In this article, we’ll go in-depth on contusions, how they occur, and what you can do to treat them.
What are the symptoms of contusions?
Although the main symptom of most contusions is pain, some deeper contusions can also cause other common symptoms. These symptoms include:
- Red or black swelling appears on the injured area
- The injured part is so painful that it is difficult to move
- Weakness and swelling in the injured area
- Heart rate changes and even breathing difficulties indicate a lung or heart contusion, and urgent treatment is needed.
What Are The Different Types of Contusions?
There are a few different types of contusions. The most common would be what we call hemarthrosis or broken blood vessels. Some bruises and contusions fall between those two categories. We’ll go into more detail about each of them.
Bruises are a type of contusion, but they can be different because they aren’t usually as severe as contusions. The bruising process is different because you have an injury that causes blood vessels to break and then form a bruise. You might see this bruise before you see the injury by the looks of your skin.
Hemarthrosis is bleeding and a collection of blood in the tissues in the injured area. You can have this where you can’t see any damage to it yet, but you can still see all of these indirect blood vessels from the outside looking in to form this pooling of blood in the tissue.
So when you have this hemarthrosis, the injury is more severe than a bruise. It’s not as painful because there’s no swelling yet. The swelling will come later after being there for about 24-48 hours. Bruises take two days, but hemarthrosis takes three or four because the blood doesn’t penetrate the tissues very quickly.
Another type of contusion is known as ecchymosis. You can get this by hitting yourself in the head or by a blunt force to your arm. You can see a bump or slight swelling on the skin with this. If you have bruised blood vessels, you could have bleeding around them or a little pooling of blood in the soft tissues.
The third type of contusion is called a subcutaneous hematoma. This is when your blood vessels are broken, but the damage to the soft tissue around it is also extensive. They bleed underneath the skin, along with a bruise. Your blood vessels will break, and there will be bleeding under your outer layer of skin, and then you can also have this pooling of blood underneath.
11 Common Contusions on Different Body Parts
1. Subcutaneous contusion
A subcutaneous contusion is a type of bruise just beneath the skin. Many people are familiar with this condition, as almost everyone suffers from a subcutaneous contusion in their life.
Subcutaneous contusions usually appear on vulnerable areas such as the hands and knees. This can cause injury to the small blood vessels under the skin. In severe cases, a large bruise may indicate bleeding from a vein or artery. This is usually caused by severe trauma, such as a car accident. If left untreated, it can be life-threatening.
2. Muscle contusion
Muscle contusion can cause damage to the blood vessels inside the muscle and hinder blood and oxygen supply. Therefore, muscle contusions are usually more severe than subcutaneous contusions, which can cause muscle swelling and severe pain.
In some cases, people with muscle contusions mistakenly believe they have broken, strained, or sprained. You need to seek medical help as soon as possible. Otherwise, a lot of blood will accumulate in the muscles.
3. Organ contusion
The body’s internal organs, including the lungs, kidneys, liver, and heart, may also be bruised. This usually happens after a strong hit or a fall. Organ contusion can severely damage the internal soft tissues, blood vessels, and organs. If left untreated, it can be life-threatening. If you have suffered an organ contusion, seek medical help as soon as possible.
4. Eye contusion
Eye contusion is also a widespread type of contusion. This can cause bruising around the eyes. In addition, eye contusions can cause redness, swelling, tearing, pain, and swelling of the eyes. If the cornea in the corner of the eye is scratched, the result will be more serious. You need to consult a doctor for an eye examination as soon as possible.
5. Bone contusion
Although bones are the hardest part of the human body, bone contusions can cause tiny fractures. You may feel broken bones and have difficulty moving the injured area. In addition, bone contusions can cause breathing difficulties and severe pain. A bone contusion can also cause osteochondritis dissecans, usually in joints like the knee or ankle.
6. Cartilage contusion
Cartilage is the tissue in the body that is harder than muscle but softer than bone. You can find a lot of cartilage on the tip of your nose and the outside of your ears. Cartilage contusion usually occurs when violently impacted. Fortunately, most cartilage damage is not severe, and it usually heals without treatment after some time.
7. Head Contusion
A head contusion refers to a bruise on the head or inside the cranium. It usually occurs due to physical trauma like a bump or blows to the head. The symptoms of a head contusion may include Intense head pain, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, confusion, and memory loss.
A head contusion is usually not serious and goes away on its own. However, you will need to see a doctor if the symptoms are severe or do not go away after a few days.
8. Hip Contusion
A hip contusion is a bruising or scraping of the bone due to a fall or impact to the hip. The most common cause is due to a car accident, but it can also happen from a fall down the stairs. It is possible to have a hip contusion without breaking any bones.
A hip contusion usually causes pain and swelling in the front of the hip and thigh. It can also cause bruising and difficulty walking. If you have a hip contusion and are in a lot of pain, you may need to see a doctor.
9. Foot Contusion
A foot contusion is a common injury that occurs when you step on something or are hit by something in the foot, like stepping on a rock or falling on a piece of concrete. A foot contusion can happen to anyone, but you may be at a higher risk if you have flat feet or if your feet are weakened by medical conditions like diabetes.
A foot contusion can cause a lot of pain and may make it difficult to walk. In most cases, you can treat a foot contusion at home. However, you may need medical attention if the pain gets worse or doesn’t go away.
10. Pulmonary Contusion
Pulmonary contusion also called a “pink puff” or “ bruised lung”, is a form of internal bleeding in the lungs caused by severe force applied to the chest. This can happen as a result of a car accident, a fall from a significant height, or a direct impact from a blast.
Symptoms of pulmonary contusion include shortness of breath, pain in the chest, coughing up blood, and fever. These symptoms can occur in seconds and may take several days to appear.
11. Knee Contusion
Knee contusion is a common injury in sports, especially contact sports like football. It is also a common injury in car accidents, falls, and other collisions. The most common symptoms of a knee contusion are pain and swelling, which can be severe. There may also be discoloration of the skin, tenderness, or a cut if the skin was scraped.
How Can You Treat Contusions?
If you end up injuring yourself, and if it’s a mild case, you’ll be fine with getting it iced. If it’s a little bit more serious, you can have some form of painkillers. Although not all contusions hurt that much, sometimes the only thing you need is to help your body produce more blood around the injury area.
For more severe cases where the bleeding is pretty bad, you’ll most likely have to see a doctor. They’re going to give you a prescription for pain, and they might give you some anti-inflammatory medicine as well. They’ll also have you follow up with them in a few days to ensure that the injury has completely healed.
The most important thing you can do if you have a contusion is to let it heal naturally. If it’s something that doesn’t hurt anymore, try not to use ice on it or to mess with the area too much before it’s healed. That way, the tissue will have all the time in the world to heal correctly, and your body can recover from it.
Another essential thing to do is to keep the area clean. You don’t want to put anything on it to cause more bruising or damage to the tissue. Try not to touch it for at least a couple of days. It needs time and rests for your body to recover from whatever trauma you’ve experienced.
How Do You Prevent Contusions?
The best thing you can do to prevent a contusion is to wear protective gear. That’s about it. There’s not much you can do to protect yourself from them unless you wear something to protect yourself. You should always wear safety gear when playing sports. That includes helmets, pads, and so on.
If you’re in a situation with no risk of injury, like going for a walk and accidentally falling, your chances of having one are pretty slim. But the chances go way up if there’s some risk in the area you’re going into.
Contusions are a type of injury that you shouldn’t take lightly. Most people with a contusion will recover without any serious complications, but it’s important to visit a doctor to rule out any serious causes.
A doctor will often recommend rest, ice, and certain medications to ease the pain of a contusion. Some serious cases may require surgery. We highly suggest wearing safety gear if you risk getting into an accident or something where you could be hurt.