What is a Bone Contusion? - Definition & Symptoms

Instructor: Alyssa Campbell

Alyssa is an active RN and teaches Nursing and Leadership university courses. She also has a Doctorate in Nursing Practice and a Master's in Business Administration.

A bone contusion is a traumatic injury causing bruising to site of impact. Read this lesson to learn the difference between a bone contusion and fracture, along with several symptoms common to this injury.

How Does a Bone Contusion Happen?

Jeff is a 32-year-old athletic director for a local school district. He is fit and highly active. After work, he goes for a jog around his neighborhood to shake off some stress. While running, he trips over a stone in the middle of the path and falls onto his hip, landing on a larger rock just off the path.

He lays on the ground, stunned for a moment while he collects himself and prepares to stand up. Once he is able to get back on his feet, he notes immediate pain and soreness to his hip. He decides to go home and rest it for a while.

After a few days of rest, Jeff's symptoms are still there. Because he is still able to walk, he doesn't think he's fractured his hip, but believes it is serious enough to see his health care provider.

Receiving a Diagnosis

After a physical assessment, some questioning about his activity, and diagnostic tests (X-ray and MRI), Jeff's health care provider validates Jeff's concern. Fortunately, the X-ray helped to rule out a hip fracture, and Jeff is diagnosed with a bone contusion.

Jeff's health care provider explains that while a contusion is less traumatic than a fracture, it is still a serious injury and will take some time to heal. He describes the contusion as a bruise to the bone, which aligns with the following symptoms:

  • Pain: As a direct effect from injury, the pain might present as sharp at first. The pain would then feel less sharp and dull as time goes on. The provider also attributes some of the pain to the build-up of blood inside and around the bone as a result of the injury.
  • Inflammation: Inflammation, or swelling at the site of injury is the body's response to damage. Bloodflow and body fluid is sent to the injured area in an attempt to heal the site and protect it from infection when necessary.
  • Ecchymosis: Another word for bruising, ecchymosis may occur as a result of injury. Just like the process of inflammation, ecchymosis occurs as a result of blood rushing to the site of injury. The blood left over to that area causes bruising that can be seen on the surface of the skin.
  • Difficulty walking: The above symptoms may cause some difficulty walking for a few weeks, making daily activities challenging and burdensome.

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