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Bruise - Overview

Alternative Names

Contusion; Hematoma

Definition of Bruise:

A bruise is an area of skin discoloration. A bruise occurs when small blood vessels break and leak their contents into the soft tissue beneath the skin.

Considerations:

There are three types of bruises:

  1. Subcutaneous -- beneath the skin
  2. Intramuscular -- within the belly of the underlying muscle
  3. Periosteal -- bone bruise

Bruises can last from days to months, with the bone bruise being the most severe and painful.

Causes:

Bruises are often caused by falls, sports injuries, car accidents, or blows received by other people or objects.

If you take a blood thinner, like aspirin or warfarin (Coumadin), you are likely to bruise more easily.

  • Reviewed last on: 5/1/2011
  • Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

References

Ballas M, Kraut EH. Bleeding and bruising: a diagnostic work-up. Am Fam Physician. 2008 Apr 15;77(8):1117-24.

Brinker MR, O’Connor DP, Almekinders LC, et al. Physiology of Injury to Musculoskeletal Structures: 1. Muscle and Tendon Injury. In: DeLee JC, Drez D Jr, Miller MD, eds. DeLee and Drez’s Orthopaedic Sports Medicine. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2009:chap 1, section A.

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