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When to Call a Doctor About a Contusion

Jun 01, 2023
A contusion is the medical term for a bruise, and most are relatively minor. They heal on their own with ice and rest. Some require professional care, however. Here’s when to seek help for your contusion.

Bruises, or contusions, can show up after a sports injury, a fall, or just a bump into something firm. They’re normal and usually go away after about a week. It’s normal to feel some tenderness and even swelling in the bruised area, but in most cases, a contusion doesn’t require professional medical care.

At Chiropractic, Rehab, and Sports Injuries of Louisville, the team, led by Michael Young, D.C., does recommend you see a doctor for a contusion if you notice certain characteristics or symptoms along with it. Here’s when you should seek care for your injury.

What exactly is a contusion?

Contusions occur when you bump into something hard, fall, or otherwise injure soft tissue. The discoloration and discomfort occurs because your injury has caused blood vessels under the skin to rupture.

Blood then leaks from the blood vessels, causing the discoloration of the bruise. It’s normal for a bruise to appear red or purple at first, but to take on other colors, like green, brown, or yellow, as it heals and fades away. 

How do I treat a painful contusion?

A cold pack or ice can prevent your contusion from swelling. Never put ice directly on your skin. If the bruise is in an area that can be propped up, do so. Rest the area, and avoid putting direct pressure on it for a few weeks. 

Topical applications of compounds like arnica, quercetin, vitamin B3, or vitamin K creams may also speed up healing times.

You can also wrap bruised tissue with a soft elastic wrap for the first day or two following injury to decrease bruising and discomfort following an injury. The wrap should be snug, but loose enough that you still have good circulation.

When should I see a doctor?

The team here at Chiropractic, Rehab, and Sports Injuries recommend you see a doctor if your bruise continues to worsen or develops new or more intense swelling. Any tingling, numbness, or weakness in the area of the bruise should also be evaluated by a medical professional. 

A contusion that has cold or pale tissue in the area needs a doctor’s attention, too. 

Other times you should seek medical evaluation of a bruise include: 

  • When it appears without an obvious cause
  • It feels different than other bruises you’ve experienced
  • It keeps growing in size
  • Recurs in the same spot
  • You are taking blood-thinning medication and the contusion feels painful and is swollen
  • The bruise doesn’t start to fade within two weeks and lingers for more than three to four weeks

Bruises that occur under a finger or toenail or that happen around the head or eyes and interfere with vision could potentially cause complications. A bruise on your torso with no known cause could indicate a problem with an internal organ.

If your bruise is in an area where you suspect you broke a bone, also come see us. 

We here at Chiropractic, Rehab, and Sports Injuries of Louisville see patients with all sorts of injuries and can help if you have a concerning contusion. Call today, or use the online tool to schedule an appointment. We can offer treatment, diagnosis, or referral to a specialist if necessary.