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Haematoma

A hematoma or haematoma is where trauma or injury (usually a direct hit) damages your veins or arteries - blood escapes and collects outside the blood vessels (arteries and veins) in a muscle or within soft tissue and can form a localised hard mass under the surface of your skin.

Common Signs & Symptoms

  • A lump over the area of injury (hematoma)
  • Swelling and pain
  • Bruising and limited movement of the joint near the injury
  • Weakness and stiffness
  • In severe cases:
    • Swelling and bleeding may cause shock
    • Broken bone, Joint Sprain or Ligament Damage, dislocated joint, torn muscle, or other injuries
    • Injury to your abdomen may damage internal organs

Description

A hematoma or haematoma is where trauma or injury (usually a direct hit) damages your veins or arteries - blood escapes and collects outside the blood vessels (arteries and veins) in a muscle or within soft tissue and can form a localised hard mass under the surface of your skin. Most hematomas eventually dissolve, but in some cases they may continue to grow or show no change. If the lump stays or causes pressure on other structures (usually in the legs), then it may need to be surgically removed.

You body will reabsorb most haematomas over time but depending on the size of the mass it can be a slow process. Gravity makes this process longer.

Advice & Treatment

Your first step is to control the bleeding to prevent your haematoma from growing - compression and elevation of the area above your heart helps to limit the bleeding from veins or arteries. The RICE formula is best to follow:

The first 24-48 hours

Rest. Protect your injury from further damage by stopping play. If it is painful to walk you might benefit from using crutches
Ice - Place ice or a bag or frozen peas wrapped in a towel on the injures area - this helps to reduce your flow of blood to the injured area. Remove this after 10 minutes and repeat hourly for the first 24 waking hours
Compression. Wrap the injured area (if possible) in a soft bandage to keep pressure on the area. Make sure this is not too tight, you don't want to cut your blood flow off to your limb
Elevation. Raise the injured area to a level above the heart

Most haematomas get better quickly and remember to avoid massage to your injured area. Some may take longer to resolve and you might feel a raised lump for some time.

After the first 48 hours and whilst you wait for it to heal, just keep gently exercising and stretching the area as long as you don't cause pain. Anti-inflammatory medication helps to control your pain and inflammation so just speak to your pharmacist for advice on which medication is best for you, especially if you are taking other medication

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