Soft Tissue Injury
Soft tissue injuries are injuries to muscles, tendons, and ligaments — your body’s soft (non-bone) tissues. These injuries can occur due to overuse, like when developing wrist tendinitis from repeated hand motions, or acute trauma, like when rolling your ankle while running.
Some kinds of soft tissue injuries, like mild strains or sprains, tend to heal on their own without long-term consequences. However, others can be more severe and have permanent and debilitating effects.
What Are Some Common Soft Tissue Injuries?
Since your body has many kinds of soft tissue, numerous types of soft tissue injuries can occur. Here are some of the most common injuries that can impact soft tissues.
A strain is a very common muscle or tendon injury that happens when you overstretch specific tissues. When muscles and tendons stretch too far, some of their fibers can tear.
For example, if you’re running, you might roll your ankle and suddenly experience pain. That would mean you’ve likely strained the ankle. The rolling motion can pull the muscles or tendons further than they typically stretch, which means that your one misstep likely caused a strain.
Strains can also happen if you slip or trip and fall. A strain might occur in that case if you land in such a way that stretches your limbs in an unnatural manner.
Many people mistakenly use the words “sprain” and “strain” interchangeably. These two injuries are somewhat similar, but they’re not exactly the same. Sprains happen when your ligaments (not muscles or tendons) suffer partial tearing as a result of overstretching.
Most contusions, also called bruises, are mild and can heal without medical treatment. However, very severe contusions can damage deeper tissues. If you’re an athlete or perform a physical job, severe contusions can sideline you for a few weeks or even longer.
If you suffer a contusion as the result of an especially hard impact, you may get what’s called a hematoma. This is when blood pools under your skin, causing a lump that’s often painful. Some hematomas go away on their own. However, to speed up your healing, your doctor might be able to drain it surgically.
Tendons are tough bands of tissue that connect your muscles to your bones. Sometimes, overusing a tendon over a period of time can cause it to become painful and inflamed. When that happens, the injury is known as tendinitis.
Tennis elbow is a common example of tendinitis. When swinging a racquet, tennis players do a lot of flexion and extension of the elbows. Those motions can irritate the tendon that connects your forearm to your elbow.
Each of your joints is cushioned by a fluid-filled sac called a bursa. If you overuse a joint, the bursa can become painful and inflamed. Most cases of bursitis arise from overuse injuries. That said, bursitis can also occur if one of your joints gets hit especially hard. For example, falling to your knees on a hard surface can lead to bursitis.
How Do You Treat Soft Tissue Injuries?
Your doctor will be able to confirm whether you have a soft tissue injury. If your symptoms aren’t severe enough to immediately go to an emergency room, you can begin to treat your injury at home. One of the most effective ways of managing soft tissue injuries at home is the PRICE method:
If you already have an injury, you want to make sure the injured area doesn’t worsen.
There are a few different ways to protect the affected body part so it can start to heal:
- Stop doing the activities that cause pain
- Use the injured area as little as possible
- For leg injuries, use crutches to keep weight off the hurt area
- For arm injuries, use a sling
It’s also important to avoid stretching the injured area. Stretching can further the damage, especially if your muscle, tendon, or ligament already has some partial tearing.
Injuries need rest to heal. Do your best to keep the injured area still to avoid causing more damage. It’s also critically important to add ample time for healing. If you rush into normal activity as soon as the injury starts feeling a little better, you’re likely to re-injure it.
Ice reduces inflammation and can help minimize pain. Frequent icing, especially in the first 24-72 hours after the injury, can do wonders for healing.
During your waking hours, apply ice to your injury about every 15–20 minutes. Sports ice packs make icing easy, but you can also use bags of frozen vegetables or ice cubes wrapped in a towel.
If you compress the injured area, you can help keep blood flow moving and stop extra fluid from building up. The best way to do this is by using a bandage that is tight but not so constricting that it cuts off your circulation or worsens your pain.
You’ll also need to make sure your bandage covers the whole area. An Ace bandage will work well, but if you can find a stretchy brace that fits you well, that can make bandaging a lot easier.
If your injury is to a limb, rest with the limb elevated above your heart whenever you can. Doing this minimizes swelling and might make your injury less painful, too.
Can You Get Compensation For Soft Tissue Injuries?
Many insurers try to downplay the severity of soft tissue injuries to avoid paying. Not all soft tissue injuries are severe, but the ones that are can involve significant pain, high medical bills, and lost wages. For example, if you have a sprain or strain that develops into a complete tear of a ligament or tendon, you may need surgical intervention.
In many cases, it’s possible to recover compensation for a severe soft tissue injury. For example, if your job duties cause an overuse injury that severely impacts your life, you might be eligible for workers’ compensation. If you get a severe hematoma as a result of a car accident, you may be able to recover money to pay for your medical bills.
Many soft tissue injuries heal quickly. However, if you’re someone who has suffered a severe soft tissue injury, you already know that these injuries can cause long-lasting problems.
If you have a soft tissue injury as a result of your work duties or because someone else was negligent, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact us at Zaner Harden Law at (720) 613-9706 to discuss how our Denver personal injury lawyers may be able to help you.