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Bruises, Contusions and Hematomas – What’s the Difference?

Oct 13, 2022

Nathan Noble, Sports Massage Therapist at Bridge Health and Wellbeing

What’s the difference between a bruise, a contusion or a hematoma? Our Sports Massage Therapist Nathan explains all.

“Contusions are bruises that are formed when small veins or capillaries (the blood vessels that run to the epidermis of the skin) break. Hematomas are deeper and cause larger leaks of blood. They are also redder to the eye rather than discoloured. Hematomas are also more likely to hang around the body for longer whereas a bruise will fade in roughly a week.”

What causes bruises?

  • Accidents or bumps
  • Microscopic tears under the surface of the skin, mainly induced by highly active individuals
  • Bleeding disorders
  • Thinner skin due to age
  • Not having enough vitamin C in the body
  • Being on prescribed blood thinners

What causes hematomas?  Hematoma on a woman's leg

  • Bone fractures
  • Fingernail injuries
  • Passing blood clots
  • Excessive alcohol use
  • Severe trauma to the area

What should you do if you have a bruise or hematoma?

“Bruises are a physiological response for the body to act accordingly to repair the area affected, so it’s likely you will feel some pain. Be aware that the site of the bruise is not always located at the same position as the original injury. For example, due to the nature of gravity and that we are on our feet most of the time, bruises may travel down the body due to the blood flow. So it’s always worth icing above and below the bruise to make sure that the area is treated effectively.”


  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Compression
  • Elevation

If you would like more information on how to manage your lifestyle and potentially reduce the risk of bruises forming, please get in touch. Our trained clinicians will be delighted to give you advice. Call us today at 01202 473800 or email

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