Soft Tissue Injuries

Soft tissue refers to any of the connective tissues that surround the bones and joints in our bodies. The term ‘soft tissue injury’ covers damage to any of the muscles, tendons or ligaments of the body. Injuries can range from commonly seen mild sprains or strains to tendon rupture.

Soft tissue injuries are typically classified as the following:

  • Contusions (bruises)
  • Sprains
  • Tendonitis
  • Bursitis
  • Stress injuries
  • Strains

A soft tissue injury is termed as acute from the initial time of the injury and while the pain, bleeding and swelling is at its worst. Your body’s aim at this point is to protect the injury from further damage. The usual time frame for the acute symptoms to settle is two to four days after the injury, but this can vary depending on how you treat your injury.

Soft tissue injuries arise with trauma. A blow, excessive force, extending or flexing beyond the normal range of motion, awkward movements like twisting or a joint, and strenuous physical activity that a person is not conditioned to can all cause soft tissue injuries. However, the trauma may not always occur as a one-off incident like a sprain while running around when playing a sport. Some soft tissue injuries like tendonitis and bursitis arise gradually over periods of time, with repeated stress and overuse.

Mild soft tissue injuries can be managed at home without the need for drugs. Initial non-pharmacologic treatment includes rest, ice, compression and elevation (RICE). For the first 1-3 days, use therapeutic measures that minimize incipient damage and reduce pain and inflammation.

Moderate to severe cases need medical attention and sometimes even surgery. It is not always possible to differentiate mild from moderate to severe injuries and it is, therefore, advisable to seek the advice of a medical professional.

Any condition where the symptoms are worsening despite the corrective measures require immediate medical attention. Remember that even small fractures may not appear as intense.