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Bruise (Contusion) Causes and Treatment


Updated June 15, 2011

bruise / contusion

bruise / contusion

Definition: A bruise, also called a contusion, refers to an area of skin discoloration (typically black and blue) that occurs after a trauma to the soft tissue. A bruise develops when small blood vessels beneath the skin rupture and blood leaks into the soft tissue beneath the skin. Contusions and bruises are common injuries in sports with a risk of collision or impact.

Bruises are classified as:

  • Subcutaneous: A bruise beneath the skin
  • Intramuscular: A bruise within a muscle
  • Periosteal: A bruise to a bone

Bruises can occur suddenly and last from days to months. Bruises generally cause pain, swelling and tenderness over a black and blue area of skin discoloration. As it heals, it often changes from black and blue to green and yellow.

Treating a bruise is similar to other soft tissue injuries. Using the R.I.C.E method is recommended. Apply ice to the bruise for 15 minutes, several times per day.

Mild contusion or bruises typically heal within about five days.

Also Known As: contusion; hematoma
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