What is a bone bruise?
A bone contusion, or bone bruise, happens when you have a small injury on the surface of a bone. The discoloration appears as blood and other fluids build up. A fracture, on the other hand, involves damage to a deeper area of bone.
It’s possible to bruise any bone, but it’s more likely to happen to bones that are close to your skin’s surface.
How common is a bone bruise?
Bone bruises are fairly common. Anyone can get one. The bones that you’re most likely to bruise are the ones in your knees and heels. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.
What are the symptoms of a bone bruise?
The common symptoms of a bone bruise are:
- Swelling of the joint
- Tenderness and pain lasting longer than a usual bruise
- Trouble using an injured joint
A bruise involving your knee can lead to a buildup of fluid on the knee, which can be painful. Depending on how the injury happened, you might also have damage to nearby ligaments.
Bone bruises can last anywhere from a few days to a few months.
There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.
When should I see my doctor?
If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.
What causes a bone bruise?
Any bone in the body can become bruised. Bone bruises are frequently reported in the knee, wrist, heel bone, foot, ankle, and hip. They often follow a single traumatic event, such as a sports injury, a fall, a car accident, or a strike from a person or object.
Twisting injuries that can cause joint sprains can also cause bone bruising.
Bone bruises occur by the following forms of trauma:
- A direct blow to the bone
- The forces associated with the skin or the muscle being torn away from the bone
- Two bones striking each other after ligament injuries
- Damage to neighboring bones.
Each of these forms of trauma has a unique associated pattern of bone bruise.
Bone bruises can also be caused by medical conditions such as arthritis, where the bone surfaces may grind against each other.
What increases my risk for a bone bruise?
There are many risk factors for a bone bruise, such as:
- High-impact sports-related activities
- Physically demanding job
- Not wearing protective equipment for sports or their job
Diagnosis & treatment
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.
How is a bone bruise diagnosed?
Your doctor will probably be able to diagnose a bone bruise based on your symptoms and a physical exam.
If they suspect you have a bone injury, an X-ray can help determine if you have a bone fracture or break, but it can’t help your doctor detect a bone bruise. Getting an MRI scan is the only way to know for sure if you have a bone bruise. Those images can potentially show if the injury is greater than a bone bruise.
How is a bone bruise treated?
For a minor bone bruise, your doctor may recommend rest, ice, and pain relievers. They may suggest that you take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Aleve or ibuprofen.
If the bone bruise is in your leg or foot, elevate your leg to help ease swelling. Apply ice for 15 to 20 minutes a few times per day. Don’t put ice directly on your skin. Use a towel or an ice pack.
You may also have to avoid certain physical activities and sports until you’re fully healed. Relatively minor bone bruises can start to get better within a few weeks. The more severe ones can take several months to heal.
Injury to a joint may require a brace to keep the joint still while it heals. If you need a brace, splint, or crutches, use them as your doctor prescribes and follow up as your doctor recommends.
Bone injuries can take longer to heal if you smoke. Depending on the extent of your injury, a physical therapist may be able to show you how to move your injured joint so that you don’t cause more damage.
You may need further diagnostic testing if your injury doesn’t heal.
Lifestyle changes & home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage a bone bruise?
The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you avoid a bone bruise:
- Eat a well-balanced diet.
- Get regular physical activity. Activity is good for your bone health, particularly weight-bearing exercise.
- Always use the recommended protective equipment when playing sports.
- Bones tend to weaken with age, so talk to your doctor about bone health at your annual physical.
- Don’t smoke. It may weaken your bones.
- Don’t have more than two drinks of alcohol per day. Drinking more than that may weaken your bones.
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Review Date: October 26, 2017 | Last Modified: December 8, 2019
What Is a Bone Bruise? https://www.healthline.com/health/bone-bruise#overview1. Accessed October 26, 2017.
Bone Bruise: Symptoms, Treatment, and Outlook. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/314427.php. Accessed October 26, 2017.