What Is A Bruise
A bruise is a rupturing of the capillaries under the skin which causes blood to pool in the adjacent tissues. Swelling and increased pressure from the bleeding causes the firing of nerve endings in the area, which the brain translates as pain.
Treating a Bruise
Bruising heals in accordance with the severity of the damage to the tissues, and the aptitude of the human being in question to heal damage. For instance, consider two people receiving the same blunt force trauma to the same area; one may have a smaller bruise than the other due to increased genetic capacity to produce coagulating factors – this person will heal more quickly.
Standard treatment is RICE: Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate.
Rest - Decrease strain to the area. Continued pressure to the area will increase inflammation, which will prolong healing.
Ice - Inflammation reducer; Recommended at 20 minutes per hour, with ice wrapped within a towel to prevent ischemia or frostbite.
Compression - Prevents edematous swelling. Under normal circumstances, lymph fluid flows to the site to protect the injury. However, this can cause increased pressure, which increases pain and inhibits healing.
Elevation - Elevating early will prevent additional blood from pooling at the site, minimizing pressure and appearance.
In addition, it is recommended that anti-inflammatories (preferably NSAIDs, never Aspirin) are used to reduce pain and swelling. Some topical creams, such as those containing mucopolysaccharide polysulfuric acid, retinol, or alpha hydroxy acids can help increase healing or reduce appearance of bruises.
Risks of Bruises
Bruising is often not a problem. However, part of being responsible in your practice and care is about knowing the risks.
Bruises are pools of blood, and therefore susceptible to clotting. Clotting can increase pressure in an area, causing nearby major blood vessels to receive additional pressure, effectively closing them off and preventing blood flow to other tissues; this is known as Compartment Syndrome.
Additionally, small blood clots can break away and be swept back into the blood vessels as an embolus, causing an obstruction to the blood vessel. Obstructions can lead to infarcts, in which the surrounding tissue is deprived of oxygen, resulting in necrosis.
Much as how any strike can be deadly, so too can any bruise. Caring for your body means prevention as much as treatment.