A muscle contusion or bruise is an injury that occurs during vigorous activities such as sports. Contusions can be minor or severe. Minor contusions can be managed without affecting an athletes playing ability. Severe contusions however can cause deep tissue damage which can take up to a month to heal and may prevent participation in certain activities. Muscle contusions can occur as a result of a direct blow to the body or from a fall against a hard surface.
Symptoms include swelling and pain at the injury site, inability to fully move a nearby joint, muscle weakness and stiffness, skin discoloration and formation of a lump. Severe cases may result in broken bones, joint dislocation, torn muscles and sprains and shock due to swelling and bleeding under the skin. Abdominal contusions may result in internal organ damage.
Muscle contusion is diagnosed by performing a thorough physical examination. Your doctor may order diagnostic tests such an ultrasound, MRI and CT scans to confirm the diagnosis.
Treatment initially includes the R.I.C.E. method:
- Rest: Rest from the activity which caused the muscle strain. Crutches and slings may be recommended as protective devices.
- Ice: Apply ice in a wrapped cloth to the affected area for 15-20 minutes.
- Compression: Apply a soft bandage or Ace wrap to the injured area.
- Elevation: Elevate the injury site above heart level.
Your doctor may prescribe nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce pain and inflammation.