ZocdocAnswersWhat helps reduce the swelling of a bruised arm?

Question

What helps reduce the swelling of a bruised arm?

I bruised my arm playing tackle football with my brother. I am a 29 year old guy and my arm feels a little swollen. I'm about to ice it, but what else helps reduce swelling?

Answer

Bruises, or hematomas, can be painful and frustrating. You first want to make sure that your injury is just a bruise with no underlying bone injury. Your primary care physician can help evaluate your injury. You are correct to place ice on the swelling/bruise. A way to remember the appropriate steps to treat bruises and swellings is RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation). Rest is important, because without it you can cause more strain to the area, leading to more inflammation and possibly further injury. Ice, as you might already know, is wonderful for bruises and swelling because it not only helps relieve pain, but also decreases the inflammation. To use ice appropriately, you should place it on the affected area for about 20 minutes and then let the area relax. You can wrap the ice in a paper towel or thin towel so that the ice is not directly on the skin. However, you do not want to overuse ice because it can lead of decreased blood flow to the area. Compression with an ACE bandage can help decrease swelling from the inflammatory process. Again, you do not want to overuse compression or wrap the area too tightly because you can decrease blood flow. Lastly, elevation of the affected arm above the level of your heart will help decrease the swelling. This works by increasing blood flow back to the heart instead of allowing it to pool in the arm. Even though these treatments can help with symptoms, you should follow up with your primary care physician to ensure there are no other worrisome symptoms.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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