The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Bone Bruises: 5 Athletes Dealing with This Painful Injury — and How to Heal Yours

Posted by on Wednesday, April 16th, 2014


We all know what soft tissue bruises feel like. It’s as if someone is pressing down on our flesh in a rather uncomfortable way. While bones seem like an extremely hard material, they can suffer bruising as well — although, that type of bruise is harder to determine.

Many athletes with bone bruises fear the worst — that they’ve fractured the bone or perhaps ripped a tendon. Truth be told, the pain from a bone bruise can be downright excruciating and cause a person to go on short-term disability. Let’s examine some athletes who were recently diagnosed with bone bruises, as well as treatment options and recovery times to help you wrap your mind around this injury.

What Is a Bone Bruise?

The root cause of a bone bruise is always some form of blunt force trauma — be it a collision with a hard surface or another player. The twisting and turning involved in most bad ankle sprains and ACL tears almost always results in accompanying bone bruising.

Unlike skin bruises — where there is plenty of room for blood to seep out into surrounding tissues — bone bruises are confined to a small area and the blood pools into a dense lump. That’s why bone bruises hurt so much.

There are three types of bone bruise:

1. A “sub-periosteal hematoma” is the most common type of bone bruise. It occurs when broken blood vessels pool blood in the membrane surrounding the bone (the periosteum).

2. A second type of bone bruise is called an “interosseous bruise” and occurs when repetitive compressive forces cause bleeding in the bone marrow region. This type of bone bruise is particularly common in the knees and ankles of pro football and basketball players.

3. Finally, a “subchondral bruise” occurs when the cartilage separates from the bone. This type of bruise is associated with car accidents or serious sports collisions.

5 Athletes Who Have Recently Suffered Bone Bruises

1. Marvin Williams (NBA, Utah Jazz) – An MRI revealed that the forward has a bone bruise in his left knee. Averaging 9.3 points and 5.1 rebounds this season, he will be sorely missed. He tried to play several days after the injury occurred, but found that he needed to sit it out for a week or more.

2. Carlos Quentin (MLB, San Diego Padres) – Padres outfielder Carlos Quentin opened the season on the disabled list with a bone bruise in his left knee. The injury occurred while making a sliding catch on March 16th, reports While he played a game on the 24th, the injury eventually took him out of play.

3. Marcus Foligno (NHL, Buffalo Sabres) – It was originally thought that forward Marcus Foligno would be out for the rest of the season with a serious knee injury, but he bounced back after missing just one game. He admitted that “it was a scary incident” and said he iced the knee and worked with trainers to regain full range of motion before returning to the rink. Hopefully it all works out! As we previously reported, NHL players, like Zach Parise, have found out what happens with a rushed recovery from a bone bruise.

foligno injury
The Buffalo Sabres’ Marcus Foligno was carted off the ice after suffering a bone bruise, which he worried might be a season-ending fracture.
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4. Louis Coleman (MLB, Kansas City Royals) – Pitcher Louis Coleman jammed the middle finger of his right hand fielding a ground ball on the first day of workouts. According to SportsInjuryAlert.comColeman’s injury consists of a bone bruise and sprained digit. Though he tried to play a few games this spring, his dismal 13.50 ERA has proven that he must sit out the necessary six to eight weeks to recover. After that, pitching coach Dave Eiland said, “He needs to throw at least two bullpen sessions and appear in more than one game before he can pitch in the majors.”

5. Eric Gordon (NBA, New Orleans Pelicans) – Shooting guard Eric Gordon has missed 10 games and will end up missing the last five games of the season due to tendinitis in his left knee. His injury woes started last season when he missed 26 games with a bone bruise in his right knee. We see this often — where a player’s body has to overcompensate for an injury on one side of the body and leads to significant injuries on the opposite side.

How Are Bone Bruises Treated?

Options for bone bruise treatment include:

– Rest! – We generally tell patients they should take at least two weeks of rest from their sport or strenuous activities to allow a bone bruise to heal.

– Physical Therapy – We have a number of exercises that can strengthen other parts of the body to help patients regain full mobility following injury.

– Assistive Devices – Braces, padded socks, orthotics, cane, crutches, walkers, or walking boots can all help patients move about when injuries are substantial.

– Anti-inflammatory Drugs – We can prescribe something a little stronger than OTC meds if the pain from a bone bruise is constant and severe.

– Natural Remedies – If you prefer, we can also counsel you on natural pain relief options — like how to use Arnica to treat a bone bruise.

– Electrical Stimulation – Low-impulse electronic waves prompt the body’s natural healing processes to speed up recovery time considerably.

– Compression Wraps & Kinesio Taping – When done correctly, these techniques promote faster healing by removing excess fluid from the affected region.

– Soft Tissue Massage – Massage promotes improved circulation, which aids in healing tissues and bone membranes.

kinesio taping
Kinesio taping is a method of clearing out excess fluids to prompt faster healing.
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When Can I Expect to Recover from a Bone Bruise?

A bone bruise can take as little as two weeks or as much as a full year to heal. Most of the injuries we see — often caused by falls or crushing injuries — will heal within two to six weeks. The extreme cases that take closer to a year to heal usually occur because there have been complications. For instance, swollen blood clots, infections like cellulitis, poor circulation, inadequate nutrition, compartment syndrome, repeated trauma, and heredity can all interfere with the healing time of a bone bruise.

New York City Bone Bruise Treatment

If you have been injured recently, have it checked out at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine in New York City. We can get you in right away to work on minimizing the damage done.


If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.