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  • Writer's pictureRandon Hall, MD

What Exactly is a Bone Bruise?

So What is a Bone Bruise?

We are frequently hearing of injury reports on athletes coming back as having a bone bruise, but I don't ever hear much information on exactly what that injury entails? This will be a short post folks, because it is not too complicated! Basically when your bone sustains a direct trauma either from being hit with a baseball, stepped on by a cleat, or struck with a helmet, it can become bruised just like your classic soft tissue bruise. Basically, the impact is hard enough to injure the bone to the point of causing swelling, bleeding or inflammation within the bone. Essentially, the particles of bone are compressed and injured, just not enough to cause a fracture. In general, a bone bruise is not going to show up on a plain x-ray, but can be confirmed with an MRI. Of note, even if the athlete has returned back to baseline the MRI may still show findings for several more months even if the patients is asymptomatic.

Lateral Femoral Condyle Bone Bruise of the Knee

Bone bruise of the lateral knee typically may occur from being struck in the leg with an opponents helmet.

So What Do We Do About a Bone Bruise?

Bone bruises can be extremely painful and can last several weeks if not months, however some can be mild and not limit the athlete at all. Typically the degree of pain and disability depends on the bone that is injured and the degree of impact. Treatment also varies widely depending upon the location on the body and the sport being played. For example, a bone bruise to the lower extremity might be treated with a boot; however if the pain is mild the athlete may be allowed to walk regularly without any supportive device. In fact, if an athlete only has pain with direct pressure but no pain with their sport, they may not miss any time at all.


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