By Amelia Son PTA
Hematomas are defined as a collection of clotted blood outside of blood vessels. They are usually caused by injuring the wall of a blood vessel which causes blood to flow or seep into the surrounding areas.
It is a common issue that affects many people. Sometimes it can be seen under the skin and usually presents as a purple colored bruise. Sometimes the hematoma can be deeper in the body and cannot always be visible.
They can be different sizes and can sometimes form a lump that can be felt easily. Not only can they be different sizes, but they can also be in multiple areas and are commonly named for the areas in which they occur. Below are some of the common hematomas found in the body;
- Ear or aural hematoma – found between the ear cartilage and overlying skin
- Hepatic hematoma – found in the liver
- Intra-abdominal, peritoneal, or retroperitoneal hematoma – found inside the abdominal cavity
- Intracranial epidural hematoma – found between the skill and the outer lining of the brain
- Spinal epidural hematoma – found between vertebrae and the outer lining of the spinal cord
- Splenic hematoma – found in the spleen
- Subdural hematoma – found between the brain tissue and the inner lining of the brain
- Subungual hematoma – found under the nail
Hematomas can resolve on their own by the clotted blood being removed and the vessels healing themselves, but other times, medical intervention is needed for treatment of the hematoma.
Hematomas are caused by damaging the blood vessel wall. This can be done many ways but most commonly done by hitting or even lightly bumping into an object. They can be more severe if the trauma is more dramatic like a fall from a high distance or being hit with something with a high velocity.
Treatment can differ depending on the hematoma. Depending on location and symptoms, it can be a medical emergency treatment should be seeked. There are ways of treating superficial hematomas on one’s own time. The best way to treat these hematomas, or bruises, is with the simple acronym RICE. RICE is as follows:
- R – Rest – Resting and avoiding further trauma to the area
- I – Ice – Apply ice to the area four to eight times a day for twenty to thirty minutes at a time. Make sure to always have a barrier between your skin and the ice to avoid further injury to the skin
- C – Compression – There are multiple ways to achieve compression. The most common are elastic bandages and compression sleeves which can be purchased at most pharmacies. Compression stockings can also be used.
- E – Elevation – Keeping the injured elevated above the level of one’s heart
RICE helps decrease overall inflammation of the area and decreases symptoms. If the symptoms do no decrease with the above plan, please seek medical advice from a professional.
Medical treatment for a hematoma with extreme symptoms may require surgery. Sometimes surgical drainage is required depending on the location and symptoms following. Most commonly this is required for a subdural hematoma if it is causing headaches, confusion, or weakness. The draining is performed by a neurosurgeon and is often done with urgency.
With all injuries, it is important to monitor the progress and seek medical advice if there are any uncertainties.