Living your best life with arthritis.

AS it Goes – Life’s Bumps and Bruises

Illustration of two bandages taped across cut

Photo courtesy of kjnnt at

The other day I noticed a large blue bruise on my shin. You would think that if your shin sports a two-inch round contusion, you would be able to recall what you had done to end up with that discoloration. But for the life of me, I could not remember hitting my shin so hard that it looked like someone had whacked my leg with a baseball bat.

Small bruises are not an uncommon occurrence for me. I often find small bruises on my arms and legs (last week I found one on my stomach) in varying shades of blue, green and yellow. My favourite is the rainbow-streaked bruise created on the inside of my lower arm after I have had a blood test.

Most bruises form when small blood vessels (capillaries) near the skin’s surface are broken by the impact of a blow or injury. When this happens, blood leaks out of the vessels and initially appears as a ‘black-and-blue’ mark. Eventually your body reabsorbs the blood and the mark disappears.

Most of the time I have no idea how or when these bruises occur. However, I certainly know the ‘why’ and there is little I can do to counter the effect. The NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) I take for my ankylosing spondylitis are partly to blame for my low threshold to life’s bumps. Among the many side effects of anti-inflammatory medications, these drugs interfere with platelet production and function, which is responsible for blood clotting.

Unfortunately, I am also facing a phenomenon called aging. As you age your skin becomes thinner and blood capillaries are closer to the surface. You also lose some of the protective fatty layer that helps to cushion your blood vessels from injury (the fat has definitely gravitated elsewhere on my body). Therefore, you become more susceptible to bruising and even a gentle bang can bring out a bruise.

Fran HalterLast week I failed to duck my head as I rushed to get into the car and I slammed the side of my temple and eye against the car’s door frame. The resulting bruise around my eye was a first-rate shiner. You can imagine the kind of remarks and questions I received about that beauty of a bruise! ~Fran