Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Why does it feel good to massage a bruise?"
I'm 21and fell off my bike I've been rubbing my leg and it helps when I rub but starts hurting again when I stop. Why is this?
Bruises, or medically known as an ecchymosis, are common problem that occur throughout one's life. We all experience them and the pain the results from them. There are many ways that people have discovered in order to manage the pain. One of the common methods is rubbing the bruise. Firstly, the reason that one experiences pain is that there are pain receptors in the muscles and skin. These receptors, when activated by inflammation from injury or pressure, activate specific pain nerves that the brain interprets as pain. That is why there is pain after the skin and muscle are damaged after the fall. But beyond pain receptors, there are other receptors in the skin and muscle. These includes receptors that are designed to feel pressure, light touch, vibration, temperature etc. These different receptors each activate specific nerves that the brain interprets as pressure, light touch etc. Now the reason we feel better when rubbing the area is that the other nerves are activated. By activating the pressure, light touch, temperature etc these "drown out" the pain fibers so the brain stops only seeing the activation of the pain fiber. The rubbing essentially increases the noise the brain hears why drowns out the signal of the pain. If your bruise does not improve, please see your doctor.