What Can Cause a Bone Bruise?

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  • Written By: H. Lo
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 25 March 2020
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Damage to the bone that does not break it can cause a bone bruise. A few main ways to acquire a bruise in the bone include direct blows, falls and sports. Direct blows can be such things like a hit, kick or blunt object striking the body. Falls can lead to a bone bruise, especially if the body hits a hard surface as a result. Sports, like football or hockey, can cause the condition through a variety of injuries, such as by a twisted ankle or knee.

There are several types of bruises, and in general, they are caused by the same types of trauma to the body. A bone bruise, though, is probably the most painful and severe type of bruise. It occurs often to bones in the ankles, hips or spine. Although a bruise in the bone can heal without treatment, it can last for months to years. The condition can cause pain and swelling to occur, in addition to being tender to touch or movement.


There is always the possibility that the condition will lead to more medical problems. For example, a bone bruise can lead to a bone fracture or a joint problem. Another example takes into consideration how sports can take a toll on the body. A football player is constantly putting his body at risk when he plays, and if he receives repeated blows to his shoulder, he can incur a bruise in the upper arm. This can then cause a condition commonly known as blocker’s bone.

To diagnose this kind of bruise, several imaging methods are utilized, include a bone scan, computed tomography (CT) scan, and a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan, in addition to an x-ray. Though imaging methods are also useful for other types of bruises, they are very good for checking for bruises in the bone. This is because even though this bruise can cause swelling, the condition itself might not be readily noticeable or attributed to the bone. A soft tissue bruise, for example, has readily noticeable physical characteristics such as discoloration of the skin.

Whatever the cause of a bone bruise, the severity of the damage determines the how long rehabilitation lasts. Rehabilitation includes exercise, pain medication and rest. The process of rehabilitation should be gradual, as too much stress too soon can cause more damage to the area and delay healing.


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Post 2

I got a bone bruise on my hip years ago when I was in high school. It had been raining and everything was kind of slick. I was getting on the bus and the treads were still wet and my foot slid right off the step. I smacked my hip on the step edge and man, did it hurt!

I ended up with a bruise the size of my palm and it hurt to walk too much for weeks.

My mom was a lab and X-ray tech at a doctor's office and she X-rayed my hip. Nothing broken or chipped, so she and the doctor pronounced it a bone bruise. That was in like, January, and I remember it still aching when school was out. I had to be careful how I sat in my desk so I wouldn't bump that spot.

Post 1

Months or years, huh? I guess that explains a lot. I had a fall about eight months ago now, and hit my leg. I really smacked my shin. It broke the skin and caused some hideous bruising, and it hurt to walk. The bruise finally went away, but the pain stayed.

I still have to be careful and make sure I wear my good shoes if I go walking or anything that puts weight on that bone. It's also still fairly tender to the touch. My doctor said a few months ago that it was a bone bruise, and I guess it is.

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