Contusions (or bruises) on your foot or ankle are caused by a hard impact that doesn't break the skin but does cause damage to the blood vessels below. As a result, reddish-purple marks show on your skin because blood from the broken blood vessels has leaked into the tissues surrounding the blood vessels.

What causes a foot contusion?

The causes can range from dropping something heavy on your foot, being stepped on, kicking a ball too hard, or if you sprain or strain your ankle.

When should I see a doctor?

Contusions of the foot are not usually indicative of a serious condition and should heal without professional intervention.

To care for your foot, follow a treatment plan designed to help decrease pain in the area, and improve muscle movement:

  • Rest your foot for one to two days after injury to reduce the risk of further damage
  • Use an ice pack every hour for 15 minutes (or as directed). Ice will help to reduce swelling and pain
  • Compression will provide support and help to decrease swelling and movement to allow your foot to heal
  • Elevation – keep your foot raised above the level of your heart when sitting or lying down to limit the amount of swelling

In some cases, a contusion can be deep, affecting the surrounding muscles, causing swelling and rapid bleeding. If the bruising doesn’t go down and it’s painful to walk, even after a couple of days, you should make an appointment with a doctor who specializes in foot and ankle ailments.

It may also be symptomatic of a contortion of your ankle (such as a sprain or a strain), in which case it is best to seek a professional opinion.

You should call a foot and ankle specialist if you notice:

  • Increased pain or swelling (or both)
  • Numbness or a tingling feeling
  • Coldness in your foot or leg
  • Signs of infection such as warmth, pain around the bruised area, increased redness or drainage
  • An inability to move the injured foot
  • Frequent, unexplained bruising

Schedule an appointment

If you have concerns about a contusion on your foot or ankle that is causing discomfort after a few days of rest, it is important to make an appointment with a specialist. While the majority of contusions will resolve themselves, there may be a sign of something more serious.