What is a Soft Tissue Injury?
Although soft tissue injuries are very common, they can be extremely painful. Soft tissue injuries involve damage to the muscles, tendons, or ligaments. Ligaments are the strong fibrous bone-to-bone connecting tissue. Ligaments are also used to stabilize joints. Typically, these injuries are categorized by the time frame since the injury and the body's natural healing processes happening at the time.
What is a soft tissue injury: Sprains
When you suffer from a sprain, your ligament has been over extended and is either completely or partially torn. The most commonly sprained areas are your:
- Wrists from landing or falling on an outstretched hand
- Ankles when from turning your foot inwards
- Knees from sudden abrupt twisting
Sprains can range depending on the severity of the injury.
- Grade I or mild sprains have little to no functional loss and minimal swelling
- Grade II are moderate sprains with incomplete tearing. Most often these sprains have bruising, swelling, and moderate pain.
- Grade III are complete tears that result in swelling, pain, bruising and the inability to have weight on the area.
What is a soft tissue injury: Strains
A strain is either an injury to the tendon or muscle. Strains occur through pulling, twisting or the overexertion of the tendon or muscle. One of the most common sites of injury is the large muscle in the back of the thigh, which is the hamstring. Sudden or acute strains are the result of a recent injury or trauma to the area, such as heavy lifting. Chronic strains are the result of repeated overuse of the area, such as tennis elbow.
What is a soft tissue injury: Contusions
When the soft tissue is bruised by incidents such as a blow to the area or because of blunt force, the result will typically be a contusion. A contusion is when the skin swells and is discolored, which indicates blood has pooled under the skin.
What is a soft tissue injury: Tendonitis
Tendonitis results from inflammation of the tendon from significant stress to the tendon.
What is a soft tissue injury: Bursitis
Bursitis is simply the inflammation of the bursa, which is a sac filled with synovial fluid that is between the bones and certain tendons. The bursa is responsible for allowing your tendons to smoothly move over the bone. Bursitis is typically the result of traumatic or excessive exercise.
RICE is the Best Treatment for Mild Soft Tissue Injuries
In most cases, a little bit of RICE will treat mild soft tissue injuries.
- Rest the muscle or tendon
- Ice packs will reduce the swelling and pain in the first 24 to 48 hours
- Compression assists in the reduction of swelling. Elastic bandages are excellent for compression.
- Elevation will also help reduce the swelling and pain. It's important to make sure the affected area is elevated above the level of your heart.
Treatment for Mild Sprains and Strains
While RICE may work well for mild injuries, more severe damage can require immobilization. These sprains or injuries should be bandaged or taped. When you strap or bandage the mild injury, the objective is to:
- Support or protect the injured muscle, ligament, or tendon
- Reduce the range of motion to increase comfort without interfering with the normal function
- Prevent the area from being re-injured
- Return to using the area as soon as possible.
For more severe soft tissue injuries, you should seek immediate medical attention. Contact Chiro-Med Rehab Centre for more information.
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