Closed Wounds

Closed wounds can occur during sports, physical games and other physical activities. The topic of closed wounds is included in school PE (physical education) lessons in the sports injuries module for GCSE PE.

Pupils learn about soft tissue injuries, incl. both open wounds and closed wounds, and hard tissue injuries such as broken bones. incl. different types of bone fractures.

Closed wounds vary in severity from minor injuries e.g. light bruises to more severe injuries such as meniscal tears. Closed wounds can involve:

Symptoms vary but in general open wounds can result in :

  • pain
  • heat, which may be associated with
  • swelling/inflammation of underlying tissues,
  • reduction in or loss of function of the affected part of the body.

Not all of these symptoms apply in every case.

What is a closed wound ?

What is the definition of a closed wound ?

Definition of a "closed wound":

A "closed wound" is an injury (i.e. damage to some of the structure/s of the body) in which no blood escapes from the body.

That is, the difference between an open wound and a closed wound is that open wounds allow blood to leave the body whereas closed wounds do not involve any external bleeding (although there may be bleeding under the skin, which is called a bruise).

Closed wounds are usually discussed as part of the soft tissue injuries topic in GCSE PE but many hard tissue injuries (i.e. damaged bones, incl. broken bones) are also closed wounds.

Common Types of Closed Wounds

Brief notes about examples of possible causes and treatments of closed soft tissue injuries follow in the table below:

Type of Closed Wound

Causes of Closed Wounds




Impact of hard object or surface onto the body e.g. player hit with a hockey stick.

Pain that may feel stronger on contact. Swelling of affected area (location of closed wound). Discolouration of the skin thsat changes as the bruise heals.

* RICE Treatment
(i.e. Rest; Ice; Compress; Elevate)

Strained Muscles

(Stretched and/or torn muscle/s)

Over-stretching of muscles that have not been sufficiently warmed-up (could be called "cold" muscles).

Pain at location of injury (closed wound). Tenderness in affected area.

* RICE Treatment
(i.e. Rest; Ice; Compress; Elevate)

Torn Muscles

(More severe than an average muscle strain but may be described as a "Grade III" i.e. severe sprain)

Over-stretching muscle tissue beyond its capacity for flexible extension - which could be due to a sudden movement or over-stretching - especially if following unsufficient warm-up.

Sharp pain that may be accompanied by discoluration of affected area (i.e. changes in skin colour).

* RICE Treatment
(i.e. Rest; Ice; Compress; Elevate)
* Seek medical advice


(Inflammation of a tendon)

Overuse of a tendon (over a period of time or during a particular movement) e.g. throwing an object or using a racquet in a game. Apart from sports injuries tendonitis can also result from a repetitive strain injury due repeated overuse of muscles e.g. at a computer.

Pain at location of injury (closed wound). Inflammation of the tissues leading to swelling of the affected area e.g. elbow joint.

* Rest
* Gentle exercise after sufficient rest of affected tissues.

Sprained Ligament

(Stretched and/or torn ligament - i.e. connective tissue attaching bone to bone.)

Sudden force causing joint to move beyond its natural range of movement e.g. to break one's fall at speed during an activity such as ice-skating.

Pain at location of injury (closed wound). Swelling of tissues in the affected area, reducing or preventing normal movement.

* RICE Treatment
(i.e. Rest; Ice; Compress; Elevate)

Meniscal Tears

Impact or other sudden, sometimes violent, force at a joint - often involving a twisting or unatural action at that joint.

Pain at location of injury (closed wound). Loss of movement of the affected area.

* Medical assistance - surgery may be recommended.

Injury is a common cause of pain, especially at joints. It is, however, not the only cause of pain in specific parts of the body. For more about other possible causes of pain see neck pain, shoulder pain, elbow pain.

This is the end of the page about closed wounds for GCSE Physical Education (GCSE PE). See also other pages in this section listed top-right and the effects of exercise on muscles and the effects of exercise on circulation.

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