Bruised Bone

A bruised bone, also known as a bone contusion, is a common injury.  Unlike a broken bone, which involves a crack or complete break in the bone, a bone bruise is a less severe injury of the bone. This article will discuss the symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment options.

What Causes Bone Bruises?

Bone bruises typically result from a high-impact force or trauma that compresses the bone. Common causes include falls, sports injuries, or direct blows to the body. Car accidents are also a frequent source of such injuries. The force involved causes micro fractures causing fluid and blood to accumulate.

Symptoms of a Bruised Bone

Recognizing the symptoms of a bruised bone is crucial for timely and effective treatment. The most common symptoms include:

– **Pain**: The affected area usually experiences a deep, aching pain that might worsen with activity.
– **Swelling**: Swelling often occurs around the injury site and can spread over time.
– **Tenderness**: The area may be sensitive to touch or pressure.
– **Changes in Color**: You may notice changes in skin color around the injury, ranging from red and purple to yellowish, as the bruise heals.

Diagnosing Bone Bruises

Diagnosing a bone bruise involves several steps. Initially, a physical examination will help assess the extent of the injury. Imaging tests play an important role in diagnosis, with Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) being the most effective. MRI scans can provide detailed images of both the bone and the soft tissues, helping to confirm the presence of a bone bruise and assess its severity.


Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is the most effective imaging technique for diagnosing bone bruises. Unlike X-rays and CT scans, which are excellent for viewing fractures in bones, MRI is particularly good at showing details of soft tissues and the internal structure of bones. An MRI uses powerful magnets and radio waves to create detailed images of the organs and tissues within the body. In the case of a bone bruise, an MRI can visualize the extent of damage within the bone marrow, showing any edema or bleeding that has occurred due to the injury.

Computed Tomography (CT) Scans

While not as sensitive as MRI for detecting bone bruises, Computed Tomography (CT) scans can be useful in certain situations. A CT scan combines X-ray images taken from different angles and uses computer processing to create cross-sectional views of the bones and soft tissues. This can help doctors rule out more severe injuries like fractures.


X-rays are typically the first imaging test done when a bone injury is suspected. However, X-rays are not particularly useful for detecting bone bruises because they are best to diagnose issues with the bone’s hard structure, such as fractures. Since bone bruises affect the inner layers of the bone, they do not appear on X-rays. Nonetheless, X-rays can be helpful to ensure there are no accompanying fractures or other skeletal abnormalities.

Treatment Options for Bone Bruises

The treatment for a bone bruise aims at reducing pain and swelling while promoting healing. Here are some commonly recommended treatment methods:

– **Rest**: It is vital to rest the injured area to prevent further damage and facilitate healing.
– **Ice Therapy**: Applying ice to the bruise can help reduce swelling and numb the pain. It’s most effective when done for 20-30 minutes every few hours during the first 48 hours after the injury.
– **Compression**: Wrapping the affected area with an elastic bandage can help decrease swelling.
– **Elevation**: Keeping the injured area elevated above the heart level, especially during the first few days, can also help reduce swelling.
– **Pain Relief Medications**: Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help alleviate the pain associated with a bone bruise.


Although a bruised bone is less severe than a fracture, it requires proper attention and care to heal correctly. Understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatment options available for bone bruises can help you manage this painful condition more effectively. Remember, if you suspect a bone bruise, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

Disclaimer: The content of this website is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended as, nor should it be considered a substitute for, professional medical advice. Do not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating any medical or health condition. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider.

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