Bruises, or muscle contusions, are one of those injuries that just about everyone has had at one point or another. In fact, bruises are the second most common sports injury after strains, and although not considered a serious injury, they can cause mild discomfort and create quite a nasty looking discoloration on the skin.
A deep tissue bruise can be the result of your body colliding with a solid object, (or a solid object colliding with your body). When this occurs, the soft tissues under your skin (muscle fibers and connective tissue) are crushed but the skin does not break or rupture.
When these soft tissues are damaged, blood from the ruptured capillaries leaks out under the skin and pools, causing the area to swell and form a red or purplish mark that can be sore and tender to touch. The symptoms associated with bruises are pain, swelling and restricted movement.
Like muscle strains, bruises are usually graded into three categories and these are referred to as: first; second; or third degree depending on their severity.
A first degree bruise is the least severe. It is the result of a minor rupture of the capillaries and is accompanied by mild pain, some swelling and stiffness. There is usually very little loss of function as a result of a first degree bruise.
A second degree bruise is the result of a moderate rupture of the capillaries and increased bleeding. There is also increased swelling and pain associated with a second degree bruise and a moderate loss of movement at the injury site.
A third degree bruise is the most severe of the three. A third degree bruise is the result of a major rupture of the capillaries and will result in massive swelling, severe pain and instability around the injury site.
Anyone can get a bruise, although people involved in contact sports are most at risk. But why do some people bruise more easily than others?
The severity of a bruise can depend on a number of things: like how tough a person’s skin tissue is; the general health of the underlying muscles and soft tissue; medications you may be on; or your age. Age can be a major contributor because as we get older our blood vessels tend to become more fragile.
The immediate treatment of any soft tissue injury is vital. Proper care and treatment now will go a long way towards a full recovery later. It is likely that most first degree bruises will require very little treatment, however second and third degree bruises should be treated with the following.
This involves the application of (R) rest, (I) ice, (C) compression, (E) elevation and obtaining a (R) referral for appropriate medical treatment.