What is a Deep Bruise?

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  • Written By: N. Swensson
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 22 June 2019
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A deep bruise is a type of injury that occurs far underneath the skin and can affect muscles, tendons, organs, or bones. This type of injury often results from an extreme impact or fall and happens frequently in sports. The body's response to the trauma is usually to increase blood flow to the area, forming pockets of blood called hematomas. This type of bruise may cause stiffness, swelling, pain, and a decreased range of motion. Though treatments are available, people who get deep bruises might be unable to resume activity for up to six weeks and could develop a complication called compartment syndrome, which requires immediate treatment.

In many cases, a deep bruise is a sports-related injury. Football players, for example, may get bruises on different body parts when they are tackled. A tennis ball hitting a player at a high rate of speed might also cause a deep bruise, which is sometimes called a contusion. Although sports are often the cause of severe bruising, a fall or other type of injury can cause the same problem for a non-athlete.


The body tries to heal itself after an impact by increasing blood flow to the affected area. This action can cause pools of blood to form, which are also called hematomas. Although they can cause pain, stiffness, and restricted movement, hematomas are not usually dangerous. Because they are not connected with the bloodstream, they can't travel to other parts of the body as blood clots can, which can be fatal in some cases.

A deep bruise might be treated in a variety of ways. One of the common treatments is RICE, which stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. RICE is often used in combination with anti-inflammatory medications. In more severe cases, a hematoma may be removed using a vacuuming procedure, or the closest joint may be taped to immobilize the area and speed recovery. Even with these measures, however, a deep tissue bruise can take many weeks to completely heal.

A more severe hematoma may cause a problem called compartment syndrome. This condition occurs when the swelling from a deep bruise is so severe that it can cause nerve or tissue damage. Because of this potential complication, any tingling or numbness in the bruised area should be reported to a doctor right away. Steps can be taken which may help to relieve the pressure and prevent permanent problems.


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Post 4

I kicked the bottom of somebody's cleat and I believe I have suffered a deep bruise on my foot. How could I resolve the pain in my foot so I can walk again?

Post 3

I got a couple of deep bruises when I was a kid and they really hurt a lot. I do remember that I was always quite happy to have and show off the colors of the bruise though. In fact I remember that there were a few of us in one of my classes who were always willing to show off the scrapes and cuts and bruises we got from sports or from climbing trees or whatever.

It would gross out the girls and impress the boys. Of course, a healing bruise actually looked more impressive than a fresh one, since it would have more colors!

Post 2
@browncoat - I imagine that medical leeches are fairly difficult to keep properly, since you'd need to completely disinfect them without killing them. I know they get used in some cases, particularly when people get something like a finger sewn back on, because they keep the blood flowing like nothing else could, but I doubt hospitals would keep them around to use as bruise remedies.
Post 1
An old treatment that they sometimes use today for deep bruises is to put leeches on them. It doesn't sound like the nicest bruise treatment, but it's supposed to be very effective, if the leeches are applied within a few hours of the injury happening.

The leeches remove the excess blood at the site so that you don't experience all the stiffness and much of the pain associated with a bruise. If they aren't applied quickly, however, the moment will pass as they won't be any use on a bruise that has started to change color.

I find it really interesting how old remedies like this are making a comeback in some places. Not many people would actually choose to use leeches, though, which is a shame.

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