7 Ways to Heal from a Soft Tissue Injury
A soft tissue injury (STI) is caused by the trauma of ligaments, muscles or tendons. It may be the result of a sudden uncontrolled movement, such as twisting an ankle or other possible mishaps. A soft tissue injury may also occur from an excessive use of exhausted body tissues. Physical overexertion is a common cause of soft tissue injuries, especially in a competitive sports environment.
The recovery time for soft tissue injuries will vary depending on the severity of the damage. A physiotherapist will diagnose the soft tissue injury and then recommend an appropriate treatment plan. Most of the time, the healing process involves several recovery phases. The patient must go through each stage and perform the necessary treatments before making a full recovery.
Recovering from a soft tissue injury can be a long and arduous journey. Below are the seven rehabilitation techniques used to heal from a soft tissue injury:
1. Beginning the injury recovery
Initially, you may experience swelling, bleeding, and acute pain from a soft tissue injury. As such, it is important to avoid movements and activities that will aggravate the pain you already feel, especially during the first few days of the recovery process. However, this doesn't call for total rest since doing so can delay the tissue repair.
The recovery process begins with the body seeking to protect further damage from occurring. This is called the protection stage. During this phase, the treatment will involve gently and regularly moving the injured body part towards directions that don't result in sharp pain. Within two to four days after the injury, the acute symptoms of the soft tissue injury should start to ease.
2. Using compression bandage
A compression bandage may be useful in the initial stages of the soft tissue injury. Wearing the compression bandage is optional, but it can help to prevent blood loss and swelling near the injury. The compression bandage should be wrapped firmly around the injured area without cutting off the blood flow.
3. Applying ice on the soft tissue injury
Ice can be applied on the injured tissue to provide a quick reprieve from the pain. However, avoid using this treatment for extended periods. Icing the injured area for a long duration may interfere with the tissue's healing process in the long term. The ice wrap should be left on the injured area for five minutes initially and increase up to twenty minutes after three days.
If the ice pack gets too cold, promptly remove it from your body. In addition, do not apply ice if you feel numb or lose sensation, if you are extremely sensitive to cold, or if you have poor circulation in your feet or hands.
4. Elevating the affected area
While healing from a soft tissue injury, you should make sure the injured area is elevated above the adjoining joint. For instance, if the injury is on your ankle, you should elevate it by placing your straightened leg on a pillow. This keeps the injury from swelling excessively.
5. Continuing the recovery
Within six weeks after the injury, new soft tissues will emerge in your body. This development makes it less critical to protect your injury as the new scar tissue matures. This begins the repair stage, where the treatment plan will escalate and involve repairing the damaged soft tissues.
By the sixth week, the injured tissue has reasonably healed, but is not strong and agile enough to stretch excessively. The new scar tissue is not yet ready to undergo strenuous activity. Exerting the scar tissue before it has fully healed could result in re-injury, which would further complicate the healing process.
During this recovery phase, your body constantly checks the condition of the injured tissue. If the body identifies that a scar tissue is weaker than intended, new tissues are automatically created to aid the healing tissue. Your body will continue to do so until it can adequately meet the daily demands of physical function.
6. Moving the affected area
Along the recovery process, you will need to move the affected area as often as possible. However, this exercise should be performed in measured restraint and within comfortable limits. At first, you will most likely feel swollen, weak, and sore in the injured area, making movement difficult. Consider using a splint or a brace on the injury to help you move more easily.
As you move around, go for controlled, measured movements to adopt a comfortable pattern for yourself. Within a few weeks of these regular movements, you should start seeing remarkable improvements to your soft tissue injury.
7. Completing the recovery
When the healing process is nearly complete, the pain from the soft tissue injury will start to dissipate. However, you might still be at risk of getting further re-injury from your daily physical activities. These new injuries could potentially set back your recovery. Meanwhile, your body is continuously repairing and remodelling the injured tissues until they are fully healed. Your chiropractic recovery is completed once you can engage in strenuous physical exercises without injuring your soft tissue further.
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