Clearing up Contusion Confusion

Ever hear about a ball player being removed from a game because of a foot contusion? It certainly happens but it isn’t cause for alarm, even though the word “contusion” can cause some confusion. Allow us to explain.

What a contusion isn’t

Contusion isn’t a word used much outside of the medical community, but it sounds a lot like two words that very often are:

  1. Concussion – this is a brain injury, sometimes very serious, caused by a blow to the head. Concussions have been in the news a lot for the last couple of years and have caused some controversy regarding the risk of such brain damage to athletes, especially football players.
  2. Contortion – a word meaning twisted into an unnatural position. A circus contortionist wraps his arms and legs around his body in ways that amaze even the most faithful of yoga practitioners. Contortion stretching is an exercise that takes yoga a step further and challenges the body to become extremely flexible.

What a contusion is

A contusion is essentially the medical term for “bruise.” Bruises are caused by a powerful impact to the skin – not enough to break the skin but strong enough to break the blood vessels that lie beneath it. Those reddish-purplish marks on the skin show up because blood from the broken vessels leaks out into the surrounding tissues.

A foot contusion can show up as a result of someone stepping on your foot, kicking a soccer ball extremely hard, or dropping something heavy on your foot. You can also get a contusion when you contort your foot or ankle – that is, you unnaturally twist it, as when you sprain your ankle. Ah, here you see why the term “contusion” can be somewhat confusing!

As we indicated earlier, contusions aren’t usually serious. They’ll normally heal on their own with RICE – rest, ice, compression, and elevation of the injured foot. Occasionally, however, a contusion can be very deep, affecting the surrounding muscles and causing rapid bleeding along with painful swelling. If you’ve got a bruised foot that doesn’t feel better after a couple of days of home treatment, consult the podiatrists at Foot & Ankle Associates of Cleveland. Dr. Megan L. Oltmann and Dr. Craig B. Frey are experts in all aspects of foot and ankle care and will clear up any confusion about your foot pain.

We welcome your online inquiry or your call to our office in Solon, Ohio at (440) 903-1041.