Upper Extremity Bruise

You have a bruise (contusion) on your arm, wrist, hand, or fingers. 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 reddish 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. This is especially important during the first 48 hours.

  • Ice the injured area to help reduce pain and swelling. Wrap an ice pack or ice cubes in a plastic bag in a thin towel. Apply 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.

  • If a sling was provided, you may remove it to shower or bathe. To prevent joint stiffness, don't wear it for more than 1 week.

Follow-up care

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

When to seek medical advice 

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

  • Increased pain or swelling

  • Hand or fingers become cold, blue, numb or tingly

  • Signs of infection: Warmth, drainage, or increased redness or pain around the injury

  • Inability to move the injured body part, the hand, or individual fingers.

  • Frequent bruising for unknown reasons

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