A bruised foot occurs as a result of direct impact or trauma which causes tissues under the skin to bleed. A bruise or contusion is made up of blood beneath the skin, resulting from broken blood vessels. When the foot is bruised, it can normally be left to heal by itself with ice and elevation to help ease the pain.
Signs & symptoms
The athlete will feel pain and tenderness at the time of injury. Walking on the injured foot is likely to be uncomfortable, if not painful, depending on the location of the injury. Swelling may appear quickly within a few minutes of injury whilst bruising tends to appear 24 to 48 hours later. The location of the bruise may change as may the color.
Treatment of a bruised foot
A foot contusion should be treated like any other bruise and mostly left alone to rest. Applying ice or cold therapy immediately after injury for 10 to 15 minutes every hour will help limit internal bleeding and swelling. Elevating the foot will help blood and swelling drain away. In severe cases, crutches may be supplied and anti-pain medication prescribed.
When should I see a doctor?
When should you see a doctor with your foot pain? Often people do not want to bother their GP or A & E department but if you have any of the following symptoms you should seek further medical assistance.
- Severe pain, especially on walking
- Severe swelling (oedema)
- Altered sensation in the foot – such as a feeling of “pins and needles” (paresthesia) or a “loss of feeling” (anaesthesia) in the foot.
- Unable to complete normal daily activities after the initial 72 hours.
Further medical assistance can be sought through either your local GP or a private clinician such as a podiatrist, physiotherapist, sports therapist, osteopath or chiropractor. If you have followed the P.R.I.C.E. principles and are still unable to walk after 72 hours or still have severe pain that is not subsiding after the first 72 hours you should visit your local A&E department for further assessment.
If you have applied the P.R.I.C.E. principles and still have weakness that lasts a long time (more than 2 weeks) or have ongoing discomfort in your foot or heel, you are highly recommended to seek advice from a specialist expert - such as a podiatrist or physiotherapist, osteopath, or chiropractor - who can provide you with advice and an appropriate and effective recovery and rehabilitation program.