Bruise is a form of injury in which the blood vessels get damaged and blood is leaked out from them. A bruised bone in elbow occurs when the bones of the elbow joint are badly injured. This can come about after a bad fall or when the elbows hit against any hard surface. This kind of strong, direct impact does not always cause fracture of the bones, but a few of the fibers that comprise the outer layers of the bones tend to break apart. As a result, small blood vessels present in this outer layer of the bone are also damaged and blood flows out from them―these appear on the skin surface as a bruise. This is a very common injury during sports activities. In non-athletes, a bad elbow injury sustained during any accident can also lead to a bruised elbow.
In case of a fractured bone, an increased number of fibers of the bones are damaged, while in a bruise, only a few of them are broken. For this reason, bruised elbow symptoms are quite similar to that of fractured bones. The intensity of bruised elbow pain due to the bruised elbow bone is more or less the same as a fracture. As there is not enough space in between the structural components of the elbow, the blood leaked out from the damaged blood vessels cannot disperse. As a result, there is a localized swelling in the elbow area which is extremely tender to touch.
Skin discoloration is another notable symptom. Soon after the injury, the skin color changes into pinkish red. With passage of time, it turns into a bluish or greenish color. The pain and tenderness of the elbow joint makes it difficult to bend the elbow for various activities.
Earlier, the diagnosis of bruised bones was a major problem. This is because bruised bones cannot be detected with x-rays. While this is true even today, yet, it is possible to diagnose the bone contusion elbow with the help of an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan. A bruised bone heals on its own. Therefore, the main aim of the bruised elbow treatment is to manage the pain and swelling. This can be done with the help of conservative methods of treatment.
The patient has to rest the affected hand completely for the first few weeks. This is because any kind of movement involving the hand can cause harm to the already damaged blood vessels of the elbow bones. This will then lead to the healing process getting delayed unnecessarily. Try to keep the injured elbow at an elevated position. This can control accumulation of fluid in the area and thus reduce the swelling.
Ice application is an excellent remedy for controlling the painful symptoms of bruised bones. It has a soothing effect on the pain and also brings down the swelling by restricting the blood flow. Regular ice application can reduce the appearance of skin discoloration in the long run. Apply ice on the elbow for 15 minutes at a stretch but not more than that. Repeat it several times in a day.
The localized swelling and skin discoloration subsides after few days but the elbow pain may persist for a longer period. Doctors mostly prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for bringing down severe elbow pain. In some rare cases where the pain is unbearable, they may administer cortisone injections for pain relief.
As compared to soft tissues, bone tissues take a longer time to heal. The recovery time for bruised bone in elbow largely depends on the severity of the injury. A mild to moderate bruise often heals in a matter of few weeks. However, if the bruise is severe, then it may take a few months before one can experience complete relief. Till that time, one has to continue with the home treatments for pain relief and avoid any kind of stress on the injured bone of the elbow.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.