Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Overview Symptoms Evaluation Treatment specialist Home Care pain in adults pain in children ring removal skin wound warning signs Outlook Underlying Cause Anatomy

Bruised Elbow Home Care

Home care for an elbow contusion includes:

  • Apply a cold compress:
    • Wrap ice in a moist hand towel. Do not apply ice directly to the skin.
    • Apply for 20-30 minutes, every 1-2 hours, for the first few days.
  • Rest the injury
  • With some elbow injuries you may wish to wear a sling for comfort:
    • Long term immobilization in a sling can lead to frozen shoulder.
    • If you wear a shoulder sling for longer than two weeks make sure you perform shoulder range of motion exercises twice a day to avoid frozen shoulder.
  • If possible, elevate the injury above your heart to help control swelling.
  • Apply an elastic wrap to the elbow.
    • Re-wrap the injury every few hours
  • Do not massage a contusion.
  • Gradually increase activity over 2-3 days.
  • Acetaminophen for pain
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications for pain:
  • Take prescribed medications as directed:
    • Don't skip doses of your medication. This makes them less effective.
    • Be aware of the common side effects that may be caused by your medication.

Bruised Elbow Pain in Adults

Medications commonly used to control pain and inflammation in adults with an elbow contusion include:

  • Acetaminophen decreases fever and pain, but does not help inflammation.
  • Adult dosing is 2 regular strength (325 mg) every 4 hours or 2 extra-strength (500 mg) every 6 hours.
  • Maximum dose is 4,000 mg per day.
  • Avoid this drug if you have alcoholism, liver disease or an allergy to the drug. See the package instructions.
  • Common brand names include Tylenol, Panadol, and many others.





NSAID Precautions

Bruised Elbow Pain in Children

Common medications used at home for pain in children with an elbow contusion include:

Aspirin and most of the other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) are not used in children except under a doctor's care.

  • Acetaminophen decreases fever and pain, but does not help inflammation.
  • Dosing is 10-15 mg per kilogram (5-7 mg per pound) of body weight every 4-6 hours, up to the adult dose.
  • Do not exceed the maximum daily dose.
  • Acetaminophen products come in various strengths. Always follow the package instructions.
  • Avoid this drug in children with liver disease or an allergy to acetaminophen.
  • Common acetaminophen products include Tylenol, Panadol and many others.



Bruised Elbow Ring Removal

Remove rings immediately after an elbow contusion, because it is difficult to remove the ring if the finger becomes swollen. Sometimes, the finger becomes so swollen that the ring must be removed with a ring cutter. The following will help you remove a ring from a swollen finger.

Ring Removal

  • Elevate the finger above the heart and apply a cold compress for 15-20 minutes.
  • Lubricate the ring:
    • Apply soapy water to the ring.
  • Ask another person to pull the skin tightly away from the ring, and then try to twist the ring off gently.
    • Stop if this causes pain or skin damage.
  • If this does not work, loop a piece of thin string or ribbon under the ring on both sides of the finger. Ask another person to grab the ends of both strings. Have the person pull equally on the ends of each string, while you gently twist the ring.

Reducing Finger Swelling
In order to reduce finger swelling, you may wrap a wide rubber band around the finger. Start at the tip of the finger and wrap towards the ring. Overlap the edges of the rubber band as you wrap the finger. After 5 minutes, remove the rubber band and try to remove the ring.

Do not wrap the finger with a rubber band if:

Seek medical care immediately for:

Bruised Elbow Skin Wound

Most minor cuts, abrasions and puncture wounds to the elbow can be safely treated at home. Initial care includes:

  • Control bleeding with direct pressure.
    • Use a gauze or clean cloth directly on the wound.
    • Maintain the pressure for at least 10 minutes.
    • Do not keep looking at the wound.
  • Clean the wound with mild soap and water. Running water can help remove dirt.
  • You may gently dab the wound with hydrogen peroxide to remove clotted blood or debris. Do not scrub or re-injure the wound.
  • Be sure there is no dirt or other foreign material left in the wound.
  • A butterfly bandage can be used to close very small, clean cuts.
  • Apply an antibiotic ointment and a dry dressing.
  • Cover the wound with gauze or elastic bandage.
  • Keep the wound clean and dry.
  • Protect and rest the injured area.
  • Elevate the injured arm.

Ongoing care for minor skin wounds includes:
  • Abrasions may be cleaned 2-3 times a day with a mild soap such as dilute baby shampoo.
  • Dry the wound gently, and completely, with a clean towel or gauze.
  • Apply an antibiotic and a dressing as needed.

Tetanus Considerations
Tetanus shots (boosters) can be given up to three days after an injury, as long as you have had all your tetanus shots in the past. A tetanus booster seldom needs to be given right at the time of the wound. This is not an emergency and can be done in the doctor's office or clinic.

A tetanus shot is necessary right away if you have not had three tetanus shots at any time in your life.

You need a tetanus shot within three days for:
  • A dirty wound and you have not had a tetanus shot in the last five years
  • A clean, minor wound and you have not had a tetanus shot in the last ten years

Bruised Elbow Warning Signs

Notify your doctor if you have an elbow contusion and any of the following:

Continue to Bruised Elbow Outlook

Last Updated: Feb 15, 2011 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
Copyright DSHI Systems, Inc. Powered by: FreeMD - Your Virtual Doctor

PubMed Bruised Elbow References
  1. Beiner JM, Jokl P. Muscle contusion injuries: current treatment options. J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2001 Jul-Aug;9(4):227-37. [11476532]
  2. Berg E. Deep muscle contusion complicated by myositis ossificans (a.k.a. heterotopic bone). Orthop Nurs. 2000 Nov-Dec;19(6):66-7. [11899311]
  3. Centeno CJ, Freeman M, Elkins WL. A review of the literature refuting the concept of minor impact soft tissue injury. Pain Res Manag. 2005 Summer;10(2):71-4. [15915248]
  4. Guzman J, Yassi A, Cooper JE, Khokhar J. Return to work after occupational injury. Family physicians' perspectives on soft-tissue injuries. Can Fam Physician. 2002 Dec;48:1912-9. [12520791]
  5. Tull F, Borrelli J Jr. Soft-tissue injury associated with closed fractures: evaluation and management. J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2003 Nov-Dec;11(6):431-8. [14686828]
FreeMD is provided for information purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for evaluation and treatment by a physician. Please review our terms of use.