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What Is a Contusion?

Published in Personal Injury on December 20, 2018

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Contusions in Personal Injury Claims

A contusion is a relatively minor injury, but this does not mean that someone who suffers a contusion due to another party’s negligence cannot claim compensation for medical expenses and pain and suffering. More than likely, if a plaintiff in a personal injury case does claim compensation for a contusion, he or she likely has a host of medical complications resulting from the defendant’s negligence and the claimed contusions will represent only a portion of the plaintiff’s claimed damages.

A contusion on its own is likely not enough to file a personal injury claim. A personal injury claim allows a victim to pursue compensation that makes the victim “whole” again, so the available damages for a contusion injury will be minimal at best and likely less than the cost of pursuing a legal claim. Anyone who suffers contusions along with other injuries due to the actions of a negligent party should still consult with a personal injury attorney about available options for legal recourse.

A contusion is a medical term for a bruise or an injury that causes blood vessels and capillaries to burst under the surface of the skin, causing swelling and discoloration. While superficial bruises are one of the most commonly seen injuries in all age groups, most people consider them solely as the dark spots that appear on the skin after a bump or other injury. However, several types of contusions exist, and these injuries can affect several parts of the body.

contusion injury

Bone Contusions

Bones consist of tissue and blood vessels, and as such, they are vulnerable to bruising. A bone contusion is impossible to see on an X-ray, as X-rays cannot show discoloration. To diagnose a bone contusion, a doctor may order an MRI scan or use differential diagnosis to eliminate possible causes for your symptoms. The symptoms of a bone contusion can include difficulty moving the affected area, stiffness, swelling, tenderness, and pain that lasts longer than a typical bruise.

Depending on the severity of a bone contusion, symptoms may last from a few days to several months. Doctors typically prescribe anti-inflammatory medications, rest, and cold pack application to reduce swelling. A doctor may also prescribe a temporary brace for the affected area and recommend increasing vitamin D and calcium intake to support bone healing.

Soft Tissue Contusions

A contusion to the soft tissues of the body like the skin or muscles will usually cause symptoms most people associate with bruises: discoloration, tenderness, and pain with pressure on the affected area. Soft tissue contusions are often mildly painful, especially when they affect parts of the body the victim cannot help but use. Soft tissue bruises are common results from bumps, joint twists, and from intravenous injections such as vaccinations.

Treatments for soft tissue contusions typically include over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications to manage pain and reduce swelling, compresses, ice application, and rest. Elevating the affected area above the level of the heart can also help drain excess blood from the contusion and speed up the healing process.

Best Practices

Never attempt to drain the blood from a bruise on your own to reduce discoloration. This is not only unhelpful for the healing process but can also increase the risk of infection. It is important to avoid damaging the same area again, especially for a bone contusion. A bone that has sustained a severe bruise is not as resilient as an undamaged bone and is more likely to fracture in an accident. Soft tissue contusions may only be mildly painful at first, but if a secondary injury worsens it, the victim may experience more severe pain and will take much longer to heal.

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