The Winter sport season is upon us which means lots of collisions on the sporting field. Unfortunately that can result in more injuries and some nasty bruises. Some bruises are actually haematomas, or an accumulation of clotted blood within the tissue. This distinguishes it from just a bruise, which is a spread of blood under the skin in a thin layer.
There are two different types of haematomas: intramuscular and intermuscular. Intramuscular haematomas occur when there is blood inside the muscle, whereas intermuscular haematomas occur on the outside of the muscle (or between 2 different muscles). Haematomas may be caused by a muscle strain, tear, laceration or a contusion (blunt force on the muscle). The swelling associated with a haematoma can put pressure on the adjacent nerves and cause pain. It also limits the ability of a muscle to contract and stretch.
Healing from a haematoma can take between 3 and 6 weeks, however treatment can begin straight away with the RICE procedure (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation). Physiotherapy can also help through massage (focusing on the outer area of the haematoma to avoid increasing bleeding), gentle mobilisation, stretching and strengthening exercises.
Unfortunately, some haematomas do not disappear. If the haematoma does not improve, you may need to see your GP or a specialist for it to be drained or removed. Also, if necessary, the doctor can organise an investigation to see if you have an increased risk of bleeding.
It is best to see your Bend + Mend physiotherapist if you think you have a haematoma. Not only can they aid in your recovery by working on the muscle, but they can also refer you on for further investigations if the need arises.