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Training Time: Bone Bruises

Training Time with Max Benton

Max Benton is the Cavaliers Athletic Trainer and tends to the immediate medical needs of the team’s players. Most of his duties center around preventative medicine, treatment, and rehabilitation.

This information should not be used as diagnosis of a particular condition and is intended only to be informative. If you are experiencing symptoms of any kind, please consult a doctor.


Its name alone might make you squirm. A bruise to the bone doesn’t sound like a lot of fun and it isn’t. There are three types of bruises: subcutaneous (beneath the skin); intramuscular (within the muscle); and periosteal (bone bruise), and bone bruises are the most severe and painful and last the longest.


Most of us are familiar with the bruising, discoloration, and swelling that comes with a hit to our muscle or soft tissue. What most of us may not be familiar with is dealing with a hit to a bone. It doesn’t seem like there is any visible discoloration or swelling with one, but the area where the bone was hit continues to hurt and ache for a long time afterward.


A bone bruise forms when a bone strikes another person or object or when an athlete falls. Those two actions cause small breaks in the outer layers of the bone (cortex). The cortex is comprised of a cross-hatch pattern of fibers which are filled in with calcium that give bones their strength. When the bone strikes a hard surface, some of those fibers can break. When enough of the fibers break, a fracture of a bone occurs. But when a few of the fibers break, you get a bone bruise.


  • Pain that lingers
  • Affected area is difficult to use (i.e. difficulty running or walking with a deep thigh bruise; throwing a javelin with a shoulder bruise, etc)
  • In some cases, discoloration and/or swelling of the affected area
  • Multiple fiber breaks (fracture) will show up on an X-ray; however, few fiber breaks (bone bruise) do not show up on an X-ray


    Because bone bruises are acute injuries, they are hard to prevent. If you have a bone bruise, there are a few things you can do to help treat the area.

  • Use ice on the bruise to reduce any possible swelling and to help it heal faster
  • Rest the area to promote healing
  • Take ibuprofen or acetaminophen to reduce pain
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