Bruises or haematomas occur when a blow to the body causes bleeding from damaged blood vessels underneath the skin. Usually we refer to more serious bruises as haematomas or contusions. These severe bruises occur deep in a muscle. When the blood is trapped within a muscle, haematomas can form hard lumps that can take months to disappear.
A dead leg or charley horse is a haematoma deep in the thigh muscle. It often happens in contact sports such as rugby where there is a hard direct blow to the thigh. Immediately afterwards the leg may feel numb and you will be unable to use the muscle.
Treating bruises and haematomas
Follow RICE (Rest, Ice, Compress and Elevate) to reduce the swelling and pain.
Do not apply heat to the injured area for at least the first 48 hours.
Do not massage the injured area at all within the first 48 hours.
Massage for haematomas should only be attempted by a trained sports massage professional after this time and can help in rehabilitation.
Following a dead leg, get professional advice on how severe the damage is as haematomas can cause long term problems if not treated correctly.