Soft tissue injuries are a common occurrence, affecting the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in our bodies. These injuries can result from a variety of causes, including sprains, strains, a direct blow leading to a contusion, or overuse of a specific body part. Symptoms often include pain, swelling, bruising, and in some cases, loss of function.
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Understanding the Different Types of Soft Tissue Injuries
Soft tissue injuries come in several forms, each with its own set of characteristics.
- Contusions (bruises): These are injuries to the soft tissue caused by a blunt force, such as a kick, fall, or blow. The impact causes bleeding into the tissue, resulting in pain, swelling, and discoloration.
- Sprains: This type of injury involves a partial tear to a ligament, often caused by a wrench or twist. Sprains commonly affect the ankles, knees, or wrists.
- Tendonitis: This condition is characterized by inflammation of the tendon, a flexible band of tissue that connects muscles to bones. Tendonitis often results from an overuse injury in the affected area due to repetitive motion.
- Bursitis: This is the inflammation of the bursa, a fluid-filled sac that provides a cushion between bones and muscles or tendons. Bursitis can be caused by an overuse injury or direct trauma to a joint.
- Stress injuries: These injuries occur when the body is subjected to repeated stress or strain over time.
- Strains: These are injuries to the muscles and tendons.
Detailed Overview of Soft Tissue Injury Treatments
The treatment for a soft tissue injury largely depends on the duration and severity of the injury. Treatment is typically divided into three stages: Acute, Subacute, and Chronic.
This is the initial stage of treatment, which usually lasts for about 48 to 72 hours following the injury. The primary goal during this stage is to protect the injured area, minimize inflammation, and promote healing.
Rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE), along with anti-inflammatory medication, are commonly recommended. Ice can be used to help reduce swelling, and in some cases, injections may be needed if pain and swelling persist.
This stage typically begins between 3 and 7 days after the injury and lasts until around 3-6 weeks. During this stage, the body begins the repair process by producing new tissue, often in the form of collagen. Initially, this collagen is disorganized and “immature,” making it less capable of managing load.
If too much stress is placed on this healing tissue, it can break down, leading to increased swelling and pain. By around 3 weeks post-injury, the collagen has usually matured to a level where it can handle some load, but it takes 6-8 weeks to fully mature.
In many cases, chiropractic care and physical therapy can help reduce pain and improve mobility.
If pain continues, steroid injections may be used for certain types of tendonitis. In cases where a tendon is completely torn, surgery may be necessary. This stage can last weeks, months, or even years, depending on the injury.
By the time the chronic stage begins, the soft tissue will have regained around 20% of its original strength. This is because the fibroblasts – cells that produce collagen – have been hard at work laying down collagen fibers.
This process continues during the chronic stage. These reinforce the scar tissue that has been formed in the earlier stages of the repair process. As the fibers contract, they will align themselves with the tensile stresses. Gradually, the injured person will find that their usual range of movement returns, with the collagen fibers and scar tissue now able to deal with any stress they are put under.
Physical therapy is often recommended to address lingering pain after a soft-tissue injury. Anti-inflammatory medication may also be recommended. However, some severe soft tissue injuries may require surgical intervention.
Call Our Athens Injury Center Today
Soft tissue injuries are a common occurrence and can happen to anyone, regardless of age or activity level. At Hurt 911, we have a team of highly trained medical professionals who treat accident injury victims.
We also work with the best personal injury lawyers in Georgia. Call 1-800-HURT-911 immediately after your accident and we’ll arrange free transportation to and from our Athens injury center or one of our other offices in Georgia.