What is Contusion?
A bruise (layman's term), also called a contusion (medical term), is a type of hematoma of tissue in which capillaries and sometimes venules are damaged by trauma, allowing blood to seep, hemorrhage, or extravasate into the surrounding interstitial tissues. Not blanching on pressure, bruises can involve capillaries at the level of skin, subcutaneous tissue, muscle, or bone. Bruises are not to be confused with other lesions primarily known by their diameter. These lesions include petechia (< 3 mm caused typically by platelet disorders), purpura (3 mm to 1 cm caused typically by inflammation of the small blood vessels known as vasculitis), and ecchymosis (>1 cm caused typically by coagulation disorders), all of which also do not blanch on pressure, and are caused by internal bleeding not associated with trauma (e.g., platelet or coagulation disorder).
As a type of hematoma, a bruise is always caused by internal bleeding into the interstitial tissues which does not break through the skin, usually initiated by blunt trauma, which causes damage through physical compression and deceleration forces. Trauma sufficient to cause bruising can occur from a wide variety of situations including accidents, falls, and surgeries. Disease states such as insufficient or malfunctioning platelets, other coagulation deficiencies, or vascular disorders, such as venous blockage associated with severe allergies can lead to the formation of purpura (of which petechia and ecchymosis are smaller and larger classes of purpura) which is not to be confused with trauma-related bruising/contusion. If the trauma is sufficient to break the skin and allow blood to escape the interstitial tissues, the injury is not a bruise but instead a different variety of hemorrhage called bleeding. However, such injuries may be accompanied by bruising elsewhere.
Bruises often induce pain, but small bruises are not normally dangerous alone. Sometimes bruises can be serious, leading to other more life-threatening forms of hematoma, such as when associated with serious injuries, including fractures and more severe internal bleeding. The likelihood and severity of bruising depends on many factors, including type and healthiness of affected tissues. Minor bruises may be easily recognized in people with light skin color by characteristic blue or purple appearance (idiomatically described as "black and blue") in the days following the injury.