Bumps, Bruises, Sprains, and Strains: Know the Difference

Bumps, bruises, sprains, and strains. Which one is it? Do you know? And, also what type of treatment goes with each condition? Basically, it’s all about what gets hurt. If you injure a muscle or tendon, it’s a strain. Sprains affect ligaments, which connect the end of one bone to another. For both injuries, the answer is often rest, ice, compression, and elevation.




Bumps: Rest

Depending on where your injury is, you may need to keep weight off it for a day or two. Crutches, canes, and walking boots can help in some situations. If your sprain or strain is severe, you might need physical therapy. Your doctor can check your injury and advise the best treatment plan. In any case, ease back into activity slowly.


Bumps: Ice

To curb swelling and pain in the first 24 hours after a minor injury, apply a cold compress for 20-30 minutes. Then remove it for 20-30 minutes. A menthol gel or spray may also provide cool pain relief. Don’t apply heat in the first 24 hours of your injury. It will worsen the swelling.


Bumps: Compression

This technique will help keep swelling down. For the first day or two after an injury, wrap a sprain or strain in compression bandages.


Bumps: Keep it Elevated

This means raising your injured area. It helps to bring down swelling, Try to keep the injured area higher than your heart, if possible. If your injury was mild, give rest, ice, compression, and elevation a week to work. If you still have pain with noticeable swelling after that, get medical attention.


Other Therapies

Sometimes, a splint, cast, or walking boot to keep your injured area still so it can heal, is necessary. To recover from a sprain or strain, you may need to do exercises at home or work with a physical therapist. For a  severe injury, you may need surgery.


Bumps: Bruise Control

If you fall, bump into something, or get hit, you may get a bruise. It happens if small blood vessels below your skin break. To help bruises heal, use a cold compress right after the injury, then raise the injured area above your heart, if you can. Bruises usually last about 2 weeks. As they heal, they change color from red/purplish to yellowish. If a bruise is severe or swells painfully, call your doctor.


Bumps: Black Eye

Apply a cold compress or towel-wrapped ice pack for 20 minutes every hour while you’re awake. Make sure to see your doctor to check whether the injury is serious.


Bump on the Head?

The best way to cut the swelling and pain of most minor head bumps is with a cold compress or ice pack. Get medical help immediately for a bump if there’s any bleeding from the head or face, severe headache or vomiting, unconsciousness, slurred speech, vision problems or pupils of uneven size, breathing issues, confusion, or convulsions.



If you have lingering pain, consider taking over-the-counter or prescription relief that may include pills, patches, or assistive devices.


Bumps: Crutches, Braces, and Boots

If you can’t put weight on a sprained or strained knee or ankle, then a cane, crutch, brace, or walking boot to help you heal may be necessary.

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