Contusion: Definition, Symptoms & Treatment

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  • 0:01 What Is a Contusion?
  • 0:28 How Common Are Contusions?
  • 1:06 Symptoms
  • 1:46 Treatment
  • 2:44 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Danielle Haak

Danielle has a PhD in Natural Resource Sciences and a MSc in Biological Sciences

We'll explore what happens when the body is injured and blood vessels break, causing blood to pool under the surface of the skin. Learn all about contusions, their symptoms, and common treatments.

What Is a Contusion?

What is a contusion? Well, it's just a medical name for a bruise! A bruise occurs when blood vessels are damaged or broken after the skin takes a hard hit or bump. Blood leaks out of these damaged blood vessels into the surrounding tissues, turning the area purple (as visible from outside the body). A contusion may be painful to the touch because the blood that has pooled under the skin is putting pressure on nearby nerve endings.

How Common Are Contusions?

Everyone has experienced contusions (bruising) at some point in life; however, they become more common as people age, with the elderly bruising easier than children (be really careful when hugging Grandma!). Blood vessels become more delicate with age, meaning they get damaged or break more easily in older individuals.

Frequent bruising may occur concurrently with certain medications, especially those that interfere with blood clotting, or the body's natural ability to keep a damaged blood vessel from bleeding excessively. Less blood clotting means more blood leaks out of a damaged vessel, producing a larger and more visible contusion!

Symptoms

A contusion changes in appearance over time and may be sensitive or tender to the touch. Initially after forming, a contusion is usually reddish in color, reflecting the color of the blood through the skin. Over time, iron from the blood changes form, and the contusion will develop a blue or purple tint to it. Finally, the contusion will turn a greenish-hue and then a yellow or brown color.

Typically, the body can heal a contusion within 2-3 weeks after the injury occurs. If a contusion does not appear to heal, stays hard to the touch, and continues to be painful, it is best to consult a medical professional as soon as possible to make sure there isn't another problem.

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