Bruising From Blood Pressure Cuff (What Causes It & What To Watch Out For)

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The bruises from blood pressure cuffs may be caused by the wrong size of the blood pressure cuff or the fact that whoever strapped it on you did it incorrectly. Remember to watch out for the folding and pinching of your skin under the cuff during fastening.

Acute radial nerve injury could be another possible yet minor complication caused by the blood pressure cuff. The said nerve injury may get reversed through consecutive physical therapy and rehabilitation sessions.

Petechial remains the most common effect of the blood pressure cuff. It appears as reddish dots under the skin. The dots often appear on the hand to which the cuff got fastened. The scenario is brought about by the rupture of weakened capillaries under the skin, causing internal bleeding. Petechial commonly appears in people who have conditions that weaken their blood vessels, such as old age and high blood pressure, among others.

In the recent past, high blood pressure might have become one of the most prevalent complications globally. Lifestyles and habits of the current society play a significant role in promoting this complication that afflicts both young and old alike.

Your blood pressure may be anomalously ranging from elevated to malignancy. Either way, whatever deviation in your blood pressure should be a call for severe medical examination. High blood pressure may be an indicator of some other underlying illness.

For such a decision to be reached, your blood pressure level must be recorded using a blood pressure monitor.

This gadget comes in a separate electronic gadget linked by a cord to a cuff that wraps around your upper arm or forearm during blood pressure level monitoring. A Velcro fastener holds the cuff in place when it is wrapped around your arm.

During the process of recording your blood pressure, the inside layer of the cuff inflates with air. Given that the cuff remains fastened tightly, the incoming air increases the tension.

Over time, countless people who have had to undergo the procedure have complained of how uncomfortable it may be. Others have suffered other complications from the cuff of the blood pressure monitor.

Herein, we will discuss the complications that arise from the blood pressure cuff, including bruises. We will discuss the types, causes, and possible medication or remedial measures.

What causes bruising from the blood pressure cuff?

1. Blood pressure cuff size

As much as arms come in different sizes, large, medium, and small, it becomes very instrumental in ensuring that you use the right blood pressure monitor cuff. Because arm lengths and widths differ from person to person, there might be no exact right blood pressure cuff size that medics can recommend.

Even so, specific parameters are used to determine an appropriate size of blood pressure cuff that is least likely to cause you harm or bruises. The blood pressure cuff should cover at least 80% of the arm length between elbow and shoulder.

Concerning width, the blood pressure cuff should have at least 40%of its inflatable part directly in contact with your arm.

But these parameters may not entirely guarantee that you will not experience any bruising. It has been noted that the pressure within the inflated cuff must exceed your systolic blood pressure level to measure it.

If and when your systolic blood pressure is too high, the cuff may be forced to inflate overly and may end up causing pain and possibly bruising your arm.

2. Radial nerve injury

In a regular blood pressure monitoring procedure, the cuff stays on your hand for several minutes. In surgeries and lengthy operation procedures, the blood pressure cuff might have to stay longer around your arm to keep your blood pressure in check all along.

The continued stress on that part of the arm can cause extensive bruising, which clears up shortly after removing the blood pressure cuff.

However, some people have suffered more than just bruising after long periods of the blood pressure cuff.  It is possible to sustain acute radial nerve injury.

The injury causes numbness over the dorsum of the arm and the wrist drop. This numbness is mainly because the wrist and finger extensor muscles have been hurt.

Suffering such an injury might be both painful and grossly uncomfortable, leave alone the time and resources you may have to incur for the extra medication and rehabilitation.

3. Folding of the skin

During the process of strapping a blood pressure cuff around the arm, it may be very instrumental for your doctor or nurse to ensure that no part of your arm’s skin or flesh folds.

If the skin or flesh beneath the cuff folds, it may be forced to pinch when the inflation of the cuff and the resultant stress presses the arm. The pinching of your skin in that manner can be excruciatingly painful and uncomfortable.

Later, when the medic unstraps the blood pressure cuff, you may find your arm bruised from skin folding. However, the bruising eventually will clear after a considerably short duration.

4. Petechial

The appearance of red-colored dots may note petechial from a blood pressure cuff. The dots appear on the part of the skin on your arm around where the cuff got strapped. And the position may probably lower towards the fingers.

The increased venous pressure during the cycling of the blood pressure cuff may cause the tiny dermal capillaries below the skin to rupture. The small reddish dots contain the internally bled blood from several ruptures.

Petechial can happen due to two main reasons. First, it can happen when your arm becomes subjected to the blood pressure cuff repeatedly many times or continuously during lengthy surgical procedures.

Secondly, Petechial can occur when the patient has a high vascular fragility due to pre-existing medical condition.

Briefly, we will discuss several medical conditions that increase vascular fragility making any of us more likely to develop petechial from the blood pressure cuff.

Chronic steroid ulcers

Several autoimmune diseases require the use of steroids on a long-term basis as treatment. Over time, the steroids affect the collagen that structurally occurs in the walls of blood vessels, making them weak. Therefore, the weakened capillaries rupture and bleed easily from the trauma and pressure caused by the blood pressure cuff.

High blood pressure

High blood pressure typically damages blood vessels as time goes. The increased pressure gradually damages the inner lining of blood vessels and makes them less elastic.

With the reduced wall thickness and much-needed elasticity, the capillaries beneath the arm around which a blood pressure cuff is strapped are more susceptible to rupture and bleeding.

The rupture and bleeding form from the as red dots we notice on the skin.

Old age

As we grow old, our bodies may produce less collagen, which happens to be a vital vascular component. Additionally, health issues pile up, and capillaries become more and more rigid over time.

When you combine the low collagen levels and the rigidity, you have a petechial case in your hands once a person is subjected to the blood pressure cuff.

Antiplatelet and anticoagulants

The formation of random blood clots in the system can be termed as both hazardous and fatal. People who often have such a problem have prescriptions of antiplatelet and anticoagulants drugs. The medication may be attributed to this effect.

As life-saving as the medications are, people who use them over a long time end up having weak capillaries and may have petechial from the blood pressure cuff.


Thrombocytopenia describes a condition in which people suffering from it have a low number of platelets. Such people are likely to have petechial from the blood pressure cuff since it can be caused by a low number or decreased function of platelets.

Petechial clears up within a short duration following its appearance and may not be a significant health concern. Even so, several measures can be put in place to prevent its appearance, which includes:

  • Usage of the correct cuff size
  • Alternation of the arm attached to the blood pressure cuff
  • Inspecting the arm frequently
  • Taking measurements less frequently
  • You can use a manual cuff
  • Placement of thin cotton cloth between the arm and the cuff


Can a blood-pressure cuff cause injury?

It may be unlikely for a blood pressure cuff to cause any severe injury or physical trauma. However, there have been incidences where several patients have complained of numbness on the dorsum side and wrist of the arm due to radial nerve injury, which is treatable by rehabilitation.

Is it normal to bruise from a blood pressure cuff?

Bruising from blood pressure cuff happens every now again to random patients anywhere. Although such bruising does not happen necessarily to everybody, and if it does, it clears off within a short time.
Therefore, it may not be normal since there may be underlying health conditions.

Can BP cuff damage arm?

A blood pressure cuff may cause bruises on the arm that disappear after a short term, but it may be unlikely to damage the arm either partly or entirely.


Bruising from the blood pressure cuff may be a common issue to patients anywhere. It becomes crucial to make sure we always use the recommended size of blood pressure cuff.

When strapping it on, we should do so carefully and with proper procedural caution.

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Nudrat Naheed
Hi, I am Nudrat, The Heart And Brain author, IR student, and painter. Writing about health fascinates me because it helps me to explore a new healthy routine and share it with others. I write primarily about general health, pregnancy, postpartum, and allergies here. If you don't find me writing, I'm busy painting or reading on global politics.

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