A bruised foot can cause you significant pain and discomfort. Below you will find information about this problem including causes, symptoms, treatments and signs that may tell you it is time to see your doctor.
Bruised Foot Symptoms
Foot bruises can affect any part of the foot including forefoot, arch, heel (read more about bruised heels here) and toes. Among the most common bruised foot symptoms are:
- Skin discoloration
The extent to which these symptoms appear vary depending on the nature of the injury. However, the symptoms clear away in a few days or weeks with appropriate home care and medical treatment measures; these are discussed in a subsequent section of this guide.
Bruised Ball of Foot
“I was biking the other day when I got an accident that caused me to step down awkwardly hard leading to a bruise on my ball of foot? Should I be worried or will it just clear away given time? I am currently not biking” Valerie
Well, Valerie, it is good to hear that you have taken a break off of biking to allow room for healing of the bruised foot which is actually recommended.
If the bruising on ball of foot doesn’t bother you as much, you can treat it at home by icing it 2-3 times each day and keeping it elevated to boost circulation of blood. You may also consider taking Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs such as ibuprofen (Advil) to alleviate swelling and inflammation.
The bruise on ball of foot should improve in just a few days especially if treatment is started early enough, but if it takes more than a couple week before healing, consider seeing your doctor.
Bruise on Bottom of Foot and Foot Pad
The foot has three major structures, namely, toes, arch, and heel which are comprised of bones, joints, tendons, muscles, and ligaments. These work together to provide movement and stability and balance for the whole body.
The feet bears the weight of the entire body due to their location on the extreme end of the body which makes them to be a relatively higher risk of contact injuries that lead to bruising.
One can get a bruise on bottom of foot (or a bruised arch of foot) foot when blood leaks out of the blood vessels in the foot into the soft tissues and muscles underlying the skin, usually as a result of damage caused by trauma. This can for example happen when someone runs in an improperly-fitting pair of shoes or gets involved in a car accident.
The use of anticoagulation medications such as warfarin can also be the underlying factor for bruised feet.
Depending on the extent and nature of injury, the bruising may cover a small or large area and one or both feet.
A bruised bottom of foot will initially appear red due to presence of red blood cells but later go through a sequence of color shades as it heals including blue-black (or purple), green, yellowish-brown.
The color change is attributed to reabsorption of the various components of blood in the leaked blood back into the body as part of the natural healing process. Generally a bruise on bottom of foot will heal in 2 to 3 weeks.
Bruised Foot Bone
“I bruised my foot bone after my team mate stepped directly on top of my shoe during a soccer game. It is very painful but I don’t think it has suffered any fractures as I am still able to move it about without a problem. What should I do to it to enable faster recovery?” Sylvester
Sports injury is a common cause of foot bone bruises and unlike bruises involving the soft tissues, foot bone bruises can be particularly painful.
While most cases will heal on their own with simple home care, you may want to seek medical attention if you suspect fracture. The same case applies if the bruising seems to be worsening, makes it difficult to move the leg, or doesn’t improve even after a few days of home care.
Coming back to what to do for the foot bone bruising, your best bet is to ice and keep the area elevated and relieve of undue pressure (avoid strenuous activities e.g. walking), and take anti-inflammatory medications e.g. acetaminophen to relieve pain and swelling. Taking Bromelain supplements may also help to aid healing of the affected bone.
Bruised Tendon in Foot
“I recently started dancing classes but had to stop for a while after bruising a tendon in the arch of my foot. What do you think I should do to my foot to help it get cured properly and faster?” Joe
Tendons connect muscles to bones. When injured, they often get inflamed, stiff, and swollen, leading to a condition known as tendinitis. This can happen anywhere on the body including the foot and may well affect the tendons in the arch of foot as Joe says.
Tendon injury is usually caused by repetitive and repeated pressure on the tendons. It is common among dancers, runners, and other athletes whose sport involves placing lots of pressure every time they land on their feet.
Your tendon should get better in a few days with adequate rest, icing, and elevation of the affected foot to boost circulation. If you must walk around, cushion your feet by placing inserts inside your shoes. It is also a good idea to ear shoe with moderate heel rather than flat ones. If necessary, you may also consider taking OTC pain relievers such as acetaminophen to relieve the pain and discomfort.
As with any medical condition however, you should see your doctor if symptoms don’t improve or worsen even with the above interventions. Treatment may involve a combination of one or more options from among medication, surgery, and range of motion exercises among others.
Swollen Bruised Foot
For a swollen bruised foot, as another anonymous reader put it, your best bet is to ice the affected area every now and then while keeping it elevated. You can for example place it on a stool or cushion as you sit down or a pillow while lying down. Try as much as possible to keep the foot above the level of the heart.
One thing though about icing, never place ice cubes directly on the skin as this can cause ice burns. The best approach is to prepare an ice pack by wrapping ice cubes in a towel. On the same note, don’t place the ice cube too long on the skin; 15-20 minutes each time are enough.
Bruise on Top of Foot
A bruise on top of a foot is usually a sign of extensor tendonitis which is usually caused by repetitive and prolonged rubbing against a shoe.
Spending too much time walking, running on uneven surfaces, and tying your shoes too tight are some of the most common triggers. Hard blows on the foot e.g. when someone drops a heavy object on it, can also cause this condition.
People with high foot arches are at higher risk of getting extensor tendonitis as this causes more pressure on the top of their foot. People with flat feet are as well more prone to getting extensor tendonitis because their extensor tendons experience relatively more strain.
To reduce the swelling and pain and promote healing, take a break from any potentially aggravating activity e.g. running, ice the area, and take pain relieving medications e.g. Naproxen or ibuprofen. Cushioning your feet with insoles and inserts as you walk around may also help.
Your doctor may recommend extensor muscle strengthening exercise such as calf stretches, ultrasound therapy, or steroid injections.
How to Heal &How to Treat a Bruised Foot
While there is nothing much you can do to prevent foot bruising (except probably choosing a well-fitting pair of shoes and socks), there are numerous intervention measures that can help to reduce the healing time involved. Here is how to treat a bruised foot:
Rest: Avoiding repetitive movements that exert pressure on the bruised foot helps to prevent further injury and encourage healing. If you are an athlete, it is advisable for you to take time off the course until you have healed lest you risk aggravating the situation.
Icing: you should ice the area immediately and several times each day thereafter to minimize and reduce swelling. When icing is done early enough, it also helps to reduce the extent of internal bleeding (and thus bruising) by constricting the blood vessels involved.
A simple way to do this is to wrap some ice cubes in a small cloth or towel and then apply it to the affected area for not more than 20 minutes each time, several times a day.
Elevate: Keeping the foot elevated also helps to reduce swelling. This also promotes the circulation of blood which then encourages reabsorption of the pooled blood, resulting in a positive effect of the healing time for the bruise.
OTC anti-inflammatory drugs: It might also benefit the bruising to take anti-inflammatory drugs the likes of acetaminophen (Tylenol). This not only helps to ease the pain but also relieves the inflammation.
When to see a doctor:
- Your foot doesn’t seem to be improving at all even after applying the above home care measures
- The bruise recurs very often even without an underlying cause e.g. an injury
- You suspect a bruised bone
- The bruising is accompanied by frequent nosebleeds, heavy menstrual flow, or blood in urine or stool
Your doctor will diagnose your condition using a combination of your history and physical examination and probably recommend taking blood tests (may be needed in some cases to rule out blood disorders), X-ray (to rule out fracture), MRI, etc.
Pursuant to that your doctor will decide the most appropriate treatment regime. This might involve using crutches, bandaging, medication, and even surgery among other options.