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How to Bounce Back from a Bone Bruise

How to Bounce Back from a Bone Bruise

In the movie, Start Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy (DeForest Kelley) confronts a disheartened Captain Kirk (William Shatner) on his birthday and delivers a “Bones bruise” that’s designed to get the Captain going again: “Jim, …get back to your command. Get back…before you really do grow old.”  

It took Kirk a while to shake off that psychic contusion—just like it does if you get a bone bruise while playing sports or suffer an accident. But if you’re smart, you’ll be able to get back in the game pretty quickly, just like Kirk.

There are three types of bone bruises: A subperiosteal hematoma where blood builds up beneath the fibrous membrane covering a bone; an interosseous bruise where bleeding and swelling occurs in the central cavity of the bone where marrow is stored; and a subchondral lesion, in which bleeding and swelling occur between cartilage and bone, usually from a compressive or twisting force. They can all cause swelling, joint pain or tenderness, inflammation and stiffness.  Sometimes if the bruise is deep and large—and if you don’t see a doctor—it blocks blood flow to the injured section of bone, leading to irreversible necrosis.   

Treatment - R.I.C.E.: Give it a Rest! Apply Ice cold packs for 20 minutes three times daily. Compress the injured area. And Elevate the injury to reduce swelling. Take OTC pain meds and wear a brace if necessary. If your symptoms worsen or are not relieved in a day or two see a doctor.

Medically reviewed in November 2018.

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