What is a Bone Bruise?

If injured, the bones located near the surface of your skin run a risk of developing a tiny hidden fracture that is called bone bruise. The creation of magnetic resonance imaging technology allow doctors to diagnose this condition as it cannot be seen on X-rays. Since the 1980’s, bone bruising has been associated with knee injuries. However, it can also occur when the injured area is your leg, hip or foot.

Bruised Bone Symptoms

Although the symptoms of this type of trauma may seem similar to an ordinary bruise, you need to be aware of them in order to seek medical attention when you need it. If not treated properly, this injury can cause long-term damage.

The symptoms to look out for are:

  • Injured area is difficult to move – If it’s your knee that was damaged, you may have difficulties bending it and moving your leg in general.
  • Swelling doesn’t go away – This is especially noticeable with knee injuries as in this case, the damaged area will accumulate fluid.
  • Pain in the affected area lasts longer than from an ordinary bruise.
  • The damaged area is swollen and discolored.

Bone bruise can be diagnosed only using MRI. It is not a standard procedure when a person is sent to the emergency room with a leg injury, so the problem may not be noticed right away.

You need to keep a close eye on the symptoms and get regular checkups in order to confirm that you are healing properly. If the doctor notices that the speed of your recovery is unsatisfactory, this can be a sign of a bruised bone.

Bone Bruise Treatment

It’s almost impossible to prevent this fracture as it cannot be anticipated. The best advice to those who practice sports that can lead to this kind of injury is to wear suitable protective gear and do everything possible to minimize the risk of accidents.

After injury has occurred, you should do the following:

  • Elevate the bruised area and keep it in this position – This will help reduce swelling. You should raise the injured extremity as often as possible during the period of recovery.
  • Apply an icepack to the bruised area – Keep it there for about 15-20 minutes and repeat 3-4 times a day for the first two days at the very least. This will reduce swelling and alleviate pain. To ensure that your skin doesn’t get chilled by the pack, wrap it in a dry soft cotton towel. This will also make it easier to hold the ice.
  • If a splint (either air or plaster) was applied to the injured area, you must carefully follow the doctor’s instructions.
    In the majority of cases, you will be allowed to remove a plaster splint when you are in the shower as it’s imperative to ensure it doesn’t get wet. Air splints can be removed at night and they are generally more comfortable. However, if the injury is severe, total immobilization provided by the plaster splint will be more effective in terms of treatment.
  • If you are “packed” in a splint, you need to wiggle your toes while wearing it as often as you can. This little movement will improve blood flow in the injured extremity and therefore, speed up the healing process.
  • Do not take any pain medications that aren’t prescribed by your doctor.
    You may also suffer from fever caused by the injury. In this case, it’s imperative to contact a doctor and take the medication he or she advises.
  • Listen to your doctor’s follow-up instructions very carefully and follow them to the letter. Every physical therapy exercise or orthopedic treatment your doctor suggest is equally important for your overall recovery.Remember, if you choose to forego some of the procedures, you may suffer permanent damage as your bones might not be able to heal properly.

Your activity, when recovering from a bruised bone, will be limited by both your pain and the need for immobilization that is necessary for healing. However, you shouldn’t stay immobile at all times as this will only make your condition worse.

To make physical activity safer for you, heed to the following advice:

  • Try to walk for as long as pain allows.
  • Get used to bearing your weight on the affected part of your body gradually and use support.
  • Do not put weight on the injured extremity until your doctor allows it.
  • Use crutches if instructed to do so. Continue to do this until you can move freely without pain.

In some cases, your condition may deteriorate even if you follow the treatment instructions. This can occur if the treatment program doesn’t suit you perfectly or if there is another health problem that went unnoticed because of the injury. If you have the following symptoms, seek immediate medical help.

  • Extreme pain that doesn’t subside even if you take pain relievers.
  • Numbness or coldness in your toes.
  • Increase in swelling and bruising.
  • High fever.