What is a contusion?

A contusion, more commonly known as a bruise, is caused when blood vessels or capillaries get injured, causing blood to collect outside of a blood vessel in the surrounding area. Contusions can happen to the skin or bones.

When contusions happen to the skin or muscle tissue, they are called soft tissue contusions. They typically discolor the skin, feel painful, and may look like a visible bump. Through treatments such as rest, ice, compression, and elevation, they may heal within days to weeks.

Contusions on the bone are typically caused by falls, accidents, or sports injuries. They often require imaging scans like X-rays, ultrasounds, computerized tomography (CT) scans, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs) to diagnose and may take months to heal.

Why are contusions important in healthcare?

Contusions are important to understand in healthcare as they are a very common type of injury for physically active people. Most contusions are mild contusions that heal in a few days.

However, moderate to severe contusions caused by more traumatic events like accidents can cause internal bleeding. If the bleeding happens to a critical area, such as the brain, the patient can experience more severe symptoms such as memory loss, difficulty focusing, and even loss of consciousness.

These instances require immediate medical care and usually take a longer time to heal, thus requiring ongoing care. In severe cases, these types of contusions may also cause long-term disability or even permanent injury.