Lower Extremity Bruise

You have a bruise (contusion) on a leg, knee, ankle, foot, or toe. Symptoms include pain, swelling, and skin discoloration. No bones are broken. This injury may take from a few days to a few weeks to heal. During that time, the bruise may change from red in color, to purple-blue, to green-yellow, to yellow-brown.

Home care

  • Unless another medicine was prescribed, you can take acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen to control pain. Talk with your healthcare provider before using these medicines if you have chronic liver or kidney disease or ever had a stomach ulcer or digestive bleeding.

  • Elevate the injured area to reduce pain and swelling. As much as possible, sit or lie down with the injured area raised about the level of your heart. It may help to sleep with a pillow under your leg to help raise it. This is especially important during the first 48 hours.

  • Ice the injured area to help reduce pain and swelling. Apply an ice pack to the bruised area for 20 minutes every 1 to 2 hours the first day. Continue this 3 to 4 times a day until the pain and swelling goes away. To make an ice pack, put ice cubes in a plastic bag that seals at the top. Wrap the bag in a thin towel. Don't put ice directly on your skin.

  • If crutches have been advised, don't bear full weight on the injured leg until you can do so without pain. You may return to sports when you are able to put full weight and impact on the injured leg without pain.

Follow up

Follow up with your healthcare provider as advised. Call if you are not improving within the next 1 to 2 weeks.

When to get medical advice 

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Increased pain or swelling

  • Foot or toes become cold, blue, numb, or tingly

  • Signs of infection: warmth, fluid leaking, or increased redness or pain around the injury

  • Inability to move the injured area, or any joints below the injured area

  • Frequent bruising for unknown reasons

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