Is a bone bruise merely a bruise?

Is a bone bruise merely a bruise?

Guest written by Jeff Yellin, DPT, CSCS, USA-W, ART and Carrie Haubrich-Burke, ATC as commentary to a recent ESPN article titled, “Nationals expect Bryce Harper back for playoff push.” The article highlights the possibility that a career-altering knee injury for the Nationals outfielder seemed realistic.

The term ‘bone bruise’ is actually a misnomer and can sometimes lead people to think it may be a less severe injury than it actually is. Bone bruises cause damage to the inner layer of bone, which is not as strong as the outer layer of bone. This type of injury can be caused by repetitive overuse, trauma, or by an acute injury episode, much like Bryce Harper’s injury.

Typically bone bruises can take anywhere from weeks to months to heal, depending on the location and the severity of the injury. While he is not currently a patient of Professional Physical Therapy, the typical treatment would usually consist of limiting activities that will increase stress on the area, along with use of modalities to decrease swelling and inflammation. It is important to regain pain free range of motion as early as possible, and then to gradually add light strengthening exercises, progressing as tolerated to prevent aggravating the injury. These injuries can occur in conjunction with other injuries, such as with the ligaments of the knee that provide stability and support, or on their own, as a result of a blow to the shin bone, with the rate of occurrence being higher in contact and high-impact sports.  Usually, these types of injuries can be preventable with protective equipment.  However, due to weather and field conditions, the manner in which Harper injured himself was truly a perfect storm.

Fortunately for Bryce, as General Manager, Mike Rizzo states in the article, “Harper has a ‘significant’ bone bruise in his left knee, but avoided the kind of ligament or tendon damage that would have put a pin in the team’s World Series aspirations.”

jeff-yellinJeff Yellin – DPT, CSCS, USA-W, ART Regional Director of Long Island/Queens




Carrie HaubrichCarrie Haubrich-Burke – ATC, Sports Medicine Coordinator