What causes leg bruise?

Leg bruises are due to an injury to the leg. Common causes of leg injury are automobile or other accidents, falls, sports injuries, bumping into objects, or violent acts. The risk of bruising is increased by medical conditions and medications that interfere with your blood's ability to clot and by conditions that weaken blood vessels or thin the skin.

Traumatic causes of leg bruise

A leg bruise may be caused by trauma including:

  • Abuse or violent acts
  • Automobile or other accidents
  • Blows to the leg
  • Falls
  • Hitting your leg against something
  • Sports injuries

Other causes of leg bruise

A leg bruise can also be caused by conditions and medications that interfere with your blood's ability to clot and by conditions that weaken blood vessels or thin your skin including:

  • Aging skin
  • Anticlotting medications, such as aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), and warfarin (Coumadin)
  • Cushing syndrome (disorder resulting in high levels of circulating cortisol)
  • Hemophilia (rare hereditary disorder in which blood does not clot normally)
  • Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (immune disorder involving destruction of platelets, the blood cell particles that help form blood clots)
  • Leukemia
  • Liver disease (includes any type of liver problem, such as hepatitis, cirrhosis and liver failure)
  • Thrombocytopenia (low blood platelet count)
  • Venous insufficiency (damaged, leaky veins)
  • Von Willebrand’s disease (hereditary bleeding disorder)

Serious or life-threatening causes of leg bruise

In some cases, a leg bruise may be a symptom of a serious or life-threatening condition that should be immediately evaluated in an emergency setting. These include:

  • Compartment syndrome (compression of tissues inside a closed muscle compartment within the body that can lead to tissue death)
  • Severe trauma
  • Subcutaneous hematoma under tension

Questions for diagnosing the cause of leg bruise

To diagnose your condition, your doctor or licensed health care practitioner will ask you several questions related to your leg bruise including:

  • When did you first notice your leg bruise?
  • Did you experience some kind of trauma or injury before the leg bruise occurred?
  • Have you had problems with bruising before?
  • Do you bleed easily?
  • Has the leg bruise changed in size?
  • Do you have any other symptoms?
  • What medications are you taking?

What are the potential complications of leg bruise?

Because leg bruises can be due to serious trauma or other diseases, failure to seek treatment for significant bruises can result in serious complications and permanent damage. Once the underlying cause is diagnosed, it is important for you to follow the treatment plan that you and your health care professional design specifically for you to reduce the risk of potential complications including:

  • Anemia
  • Compartment syndrome (compression of tissues inside a closed muscle compartment within the body that can lead to tissue death)
  • Expanding hematoma
  • Infection
  • Myositis ossificans (abnormal healing of a muscle injury causing bone formation)
  • Shock
  • Tissue necrosis and cell death

References:

Bruise. Medline Plus, a service of the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/007213.htm. Accessed May 23, 2011.

Muscle contusion (bruise). AAOS American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00341. Accessed May 23, 2011.

INTRODUCTION

What is leg bruise?

A bruise, or ecchymosis, is a collection of blood in a confined area. It can form directly under the skin, within a muscle, in and around bone, or inside the body. Under the skin, a bruise may cause an area of discoloration that may change colors and spread before resolving. It typically starts with a pinkish red color, becomes bluish, and then turns a yellow-green color.... Read more about leg bruiseintroduction

SYMPTOMS

What other symptoms might occur with leg bruise?

Leg bruising may accompany other symptoms that vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Medical conditions and medications that interfere with the blood's ability to clot weaken blood vessels and can contribute to leg bruising.... Read more about leg bruisesymptoms

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Injuries and Wounds


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