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Bone Bruises - Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Published on Dec 14, 2022 and last reviewed on Mar 07, 2023   -  5 min read


A bruise is commonly thought of as a black-and-blue mark on the skin. Read below to get more details.


A bone contusion is also known as a bone bruise. It occurs when minor damage to the surface of a bone occurs. As blood and other fluids accumulate, coloring occurs. On the other hand, a fracture occurs when a deeper portion of bone is damaged. Any bone can be bruised, but those that are close to the skin's surface are more likely to do so.

What Does a Bone Bruise Feel Like?

If the skin appears black, blue, or purple, it is simple to assume it is an ordinary bruise. However, the harm could be more serious. The common signs and symptoms seen are as follows:

What Are the Risk Factors Behind Bone Bruises?

Bone bruises are a regular occurrence and can happen to anyone. The bones in the knees and heels are the ones that are most likely to bruise. The factors that may result in such bruises are:

  • A direct blow to the bone, such as a fall, an accident, or a bump during a sporting event, causes a bone bruise.

  • If the ankle or wrist gets twisted, one might potentially bruise the bone.

  • If there are one or more of the following, one may be more prone to bone bruises:

  • Participation and injuries from high-impact sports.

  • The required protective equipment is not worn.

  • The job necessitates a lot of physical exertion.

  • Participating in a physically difficult activity.

  • Grinding of bone surfaces against each other causes bruising in people with osteoarthritis. Injections of corticosteroids into a joint are sometimes used to treat arthritis. Corticosteroid injections can sometimes produce bone bruising, which is unusual.

When Should One See the Doctor?

It is difficult to identify if a bone bruise is related to a more serious disease that requires care.

Getting a doctor's opinion is always a good idea.

If any of the following occur, seek medical help right away:

  • The swelling will not subside.

  • The swelling is worsening.

  • The agony is worsening, and over-the-counter pain medicines are not doing much to help.

  • Blue, chilly, and numb patches appear on the body, such as the fingers and toes. Those signs and symptoms could point to a serious bone bruise. A bone bruise is not always the only symptom of an injury. It is also possible to have a fracture or a break. A bone bruise on the knee could indicate a ligament tear. A particularly severe bone bruise can obstruct blood flow.

This is uncommon; however, it might result in the death of a portion of the bone.

When a bone dies, the damage it causes is permanent. Hence, it is crucial to see a doctor and report if the symptoms do not subside.

How Are Bone Bruises Diagnosed?

Based on the symptoms and a physical examination, the doctor will most likely be able to diagnose a bone bruise. If a bone injury is suspected, an X-ray can help identify if there is a fracture or break, but it will not help detect a bone bruise. Only an MRI scan can determine whether or not a person has a bone bruise.

How Are Bone Bruises Treated?

The following treatment modalities are beneficial in the case of bone bruises:

  • The doctor may recommend rest, ice, and pain medicines for a mild bone bruise.

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines, such as Aleve or Ibuprofen, may be recommended.

  • Elevate the leg or foot if the bone bruise is in the leg or foot to help with swelling.

  • Application of ice to the injured site for 15 to 20 minutes many times a day.

  • Direct ice application to the skin is not advisable.

  • Use a towel or an ice pack to relieve the pain.

  • Certain physical activities and sports may also need to be avoided until the patient fully recovers.

  • Bone injuries that are very small can start to heal within a few weeks.

  • The most severe ones may take several months to recover.

  • A joint injury may necessitate using a brace to keep the joint motionless while it heals.

  • If a brace, splint, or crutches are required, follow the doctor's instructions and follow up as directed.

  • If a person smokes, bone injuries may take longer to heal.

Depending upon the injury site and severity, a physical therapist may be able to demonstrate how to move the affected joint to avoid further injury. If the damage does not heal, additional diagnostic tests may be required.

What Is the Prognosis?

It may be necessary to rest, but it is critical to allow the bone to mend completely. Returning to normal activities too soon can aggravate the situation. Although recovery times vary greatly, it normally takes a few months to recover fully. The majority of the time, there are no long-term issues. Unless there has been a more serious injury, complications are uncommon.

What Are the Modes of Prevention for Bone Bruising?

The following tips may help keep the bones strong and healthy; however, bone bruising cannot always be avoided. Certain lifestyle choices can improve the strength and health of the bones and their ability to mend. To maintain the health of the bones, these guidelines may prove useful:

  • Consume a healthy, well-balanced diet.

  • Get some exercise regularly.

  • Weight-bearing activity, in particular, is beneficial to bone health.

  • When participating in sports, always wear the necessary protective equipment.

  • Because bones weaken with age, it is advisable to consult a doctor annually, especially after a certain age or in case of professions requiring strain on the bones.


Bone bruises may occur to any individual due to various factors, ranging from strenuous activity to old age or another underlying disease. The tips mentioned above to maintain the bones' health and integrity, coupled with a physician's regular check-ups, are mandatory to prevent the condition or ask for treatment in case the condition does arise. Certain lifestyle choices are also instrumental in causing bone bruises and recovery periods.

Last reviewed at:
07 Mar 2023  -  5 min read




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