What Is the Difference Between a Bruise, a Sprain, and a Strain?

A bruise is an injury on the surface of your body. It is usually caused by a blow or a fall.

Even though your skin is not broken, the small blood vessels under your skin are. As more blood rushes to the damaged tissues, your skin becomes swollen and red.

The bruised area later turns black and blue, because the blood spreads into your flesh. Your skin next turns a greenish-yellow as the blood slowly returns to your blood stream. When your skin finally returns to its normal color, you know that the healing is complete.

A sprain is an injury to a joint inside your body, such as your ankle or wrist.

A sudden pull can stretch or tear the ligaments that hold the bones of a joint in their proper position. The area around a sprain swells quickly and often turns black and blue.

With a strain, the muscle or tendon, a cord that attaches a muscle to a bone, is injured, often while you are lifting a heavy object. The affected muscles become stiff and painful, but they can be relaxed by massage and the application of heat.

It can take longer for a sprain to heal than a simple broken bone!