Commonly referred to as a bruise, a muscle contusion occurs as a result of a blunt force injury that damages blood vessels, usually capillaries, causing blood to seep into the surrounding tissue. This in turn causes the bruise to spread and darken. A type of hematoma, the bruise, is a collection of blood outside the blood vessels, which in some cases may form a lump under the skin. Bruises can appear in any type of tissue, even bone, and a bruised foot muscle is a common injury, especially among physically active people such as athletes and small children. Severe bruising suggests that a serious internal injury may have occurred. In persons prone to blood clotting issues, a minor bruise should be monitored.
When we think of a bruise we think of the area in most instances getting blue/black. This occurs as a result of blood leaking from damaged blood vessels. It is possible however for tissue damage to occur without internal blood leakage. If tissue damage is extensive, you could also have a broken bone, dislocated joint, sprain, torn muscle, or other injuries.
• Appearance of a lump at the site of the injury
• Discolouration of the skin
• Swelling of the affected area
• Pain when the affected area is touched.
With a literal adrenaline rush, athletes most times do not realise that they are injured. Often they have a bad tackle, or a fall, and just get up and go again. Contact sports contribute most to these types of injuries. Be it football, basketball, cricket or hockey amongst others player bouncing into you; connecting with a ball, bat, or hockey stick, can be detrimental.
Visiting your Doctor/Podiatrist
Once you realise you’re injured, see your doctor right away for a complete diagnosis. A physical examination will determine the exact location and extent of injury.
While most contusions heal on their own within a few weeks, often without even causing pain or discomfort, there are times when a bruised foot requires immediate medical attention. If you suffer from haemophilia, or any other condition that interferes with blood clotting, you are probably well aware of the potential seriousness of even a minor bruise. If you are an athlete, you need to be able to distinguish between a minor bruise, which you will of course inevitably suffer with from time to time, from a more serious injury that may affect your ability to play for years to come. You must also consider the possibility that the injury that bruised your foot muscle may also have fractured a bone.
Diagnostic imaging tools may be used to better visualise inside the injured area of your body. These tools include ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or computed tomography (CT) scans. For some injuries, your doctor may also need to check for nerve injury.
• Development of scar tissue caused by a return to active use before the muscle has healed.
• Compartment syndrome, a potentially serious condition that occurs when fluid build up in a muscle disrupts blood flow, depriving the tissue of nourishment.
• Myositis Ossificans, a condition that occurs when rehabilitation of an injury is rushed, in which the bruised foot muscle begins to grow bone material rather than muscle cells.
If the injury is not too severe, the most effective treatment may be simple RICE—Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Ice should be applied to any suspected bruising injury as soon as possible, and the foot should be kept elevated. Compression can be applied with bandages and elevation of the injured area to control bleeding, swelling and pain. Although you should take care not to bandage your foot so tightly, as to cut off circulation. You should maintain your fitness as well by exercising the uninjured parts of your body.
Your doctor/podiatrist will most likely prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Refrain from massaging the injury or rubbing it excessively, and take whatever medication your doctor prescribes. If a large hematoma appears and does not go away within a few days, your doctor may want to drain it surgically to speed up healing.
Gentle stretching exercises may be recommended as well, to restore range of motion to the injured area. Once your range of motion has improved, your doctor may prescribe weight bearing and strengthening exercises. When you have normal, pain-free range of motion, your doctor may let you return to non-contact sports.
Depending on the extent of your injuries, returning to your normal sports activity may take several weeks or longer. Remember, putting too much stress on the injured area before it has healed enough, may result in excessive scar tissue developing, along with additional problems.
As an athlete, it is virtually impossible to prevent this type of injury. However, wearing protective gear and trying to be careful is key. Do let good sense prevail!
Your feet mirror your general health . . . cherish them!