Bone bruises occur during traumatic impact against bone, whether caused by a fall or banging your knee or elbow against a hard or sharp object. The impact causes compression and the outer layer of the bone may break down. This causes the leaking of fluid or blood that appears on the skin as a bruise. Ice, rest, and pain relief are the most common, and most effective, treatments.
Apply ice directly to the bruised area to slow, and eventually reverse, the discolouration and pain from bruising. A pack of frozen vegetables may work better than ice as frozen packages keep their shape better. After 24 hours, try alternating with a heat pad. Swelling, if any, should disappear quicker than muscle bruises, which are marked by more swelling because there is more blood leakage and thus, more puffiness under the skin. Pain may subside in days or weeks depending on the severity of the bone bruise, and faint discolouration may linger for months.
Rest is essential in bone bruise treatment to save the bruised area from further inflammation and injury. With the affected tissue in a bone bruise more vulnerable than usual, physical activity involving the surrounding muscles may lead to fractures and even breaks in the bone. Try resting the area for a week, or more, depending on the severity of the injury. Consult with a doctor to determine if your bone bruise is actually a fracture or break, both of which will require substantially more rest than a bruise.
When employing over-the-counter pain relief medications, lean more toward acetaminophen and away from ibuprofen or aspirin. Ibuprofen and aspirin tend to thin the blood, and blood thinners are bad for bruises because they make blood vessels more vulnerable, which causes bruising or intensifies existing bruising. Consult with a doctor before experimenting with more powerful pain relief than the store-bought variety.