Bone Bruises and Fractures: Diagnosis and Treatment

Bone Bruises Vs. Fractures

Orthopaedic trauma can occur in many ways. Bone bruises and fractures are two very common types of injuries that can cause significant pain and restrict activity. However, treatment for these two injuries can look very different.

From an unexpected fall to a forceful impact during a sport, there are endless ways to sustain a substantial bone injury. Bone bruises and fractures are common injuries that can cause pain, swelling and limited range of motion. With many similarities in symptoms, it may be tricky to determine how serious the injury is. Getting a proper diagnosis after suffering an orthopaedic injury is key to getting on the road to recovery.

Bone Bruises

Bones bruises, also known as bone contusions, are similar to bruises of other tissue in your body. When the area suffers a trauma, the small blood vessels of your bone tissue are damaged. This damage isn’t enough to show up on an x-ray, it is more of a “micro-fracture.”

Symptoms of Bone Bruises

  • Pain, sensitive to touch of the injured area
  • Bruising to the skin
  • Swelling
  • Stiffness of the joint
  • Palpable lump under the skin
  • Joint inflammation

Treatment for Bone Bruises

  • Rest the injured body part
  • Ice the injury periodically throughout the day
  • Elevate the impacted area above heart level to assist with decreasing the swelling
  • Take a medication such as acetaminophen to reduce swelling and pain


When a fracture to the bone occurs, a visible crack in the bone will appear on the x-ray. This makes the diagnoses of a fracture a bit more straightforward. Symptoms of fractures are very similar to those of a bone bruise. Pain, swelling, tenderness of impacted area can all accompany a fractured bone. The best way to determine whether or not a fracture has occurred is to consult with an orthopaedic surgeon immediately. In some cases fractures can be treated with a cast however, in some cases, surgery is required. Determining the diagnosis quickly is the best bet for getting the appropriate treatment plan as soon as possible.

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