The role that soft tissues play in human health is large, and any soft tissue injury can have long-lasting repercussions. Ligaments, tendons, and muscles in our body are classified as "soft tissues" as are nerves, joint capsules, and our skin too. Injuries to soft tissues can stem from years of strain or can be attributed to a single accident. Regardless of the cause, these type of injuries can really affect your everyday life activities and become a haunting reminder of a trauma. In the following article, we will look at common soft tissue injuries and how they can be prevented or properly treated once diagnosed. Stick around to find out.
What Is a Soft Tissue Injury?
A soft tissue injury is any lesion localized on tendons, ligaments, nerves, and muscles. Tears, strains, contusions, and pulls are all prime examples of soft tissue injuries, and each has their own specific set of discomforts and long-lasting issues if left untreated. Sports-related injuries and car accidents are at the top of the list when it comes to causes for soft tissue injuries as forceful impacts and strenuous activity play a major role.
Some soft tissue injuries can be attributed to old age and the general degeneration of the body's ligaments and muscles over time. Soft tissue injuries can be costly ordeals both financially and personally, so it is important to get to the root of your injury as soon as possible.
The reason that car accidents top the list of causes for soft tissue injuries is due to their forceful and rapid nature. When tissues and ligaments are pulled with such force and speed, they are likely to be the first to tear or strain. What is unique about a soft tissue injury is that it is not always immediately registered by our body's pain receptors, often a soft tissue injury can take several days to several weeks to cause discomfort. The violent and sudden movement of a vehicular crash is considered a major trauma to soft tissues and can lead to discomfort, swelling, stiffness, pain, bruising and soreness.
The Passing of Time
As we age our bodies succumb to the natural wear and tear of life and slowly lose the strength of youth. Soft tissues are not spared by the aging process and over time lose their elasticity which can lead to injury from lesser violent accidents. As muscles begin to lose mass, they also become frailer and lead to injuries of the hips, neck, and back. Different lifestyles and genetic makeup play an important role in the development of soft tissue injuries due to age as they can lessen the overall impact.
10 Most Common Soft Tissue Injury
Soft tissue injuries can have many causes, but one thing they all have in common is their disruptive nature on everyday life activities. Soft tissue injuries can become aggravated by simple movements, and once they become chronic, they can be very difficult to treat. In the following section, we are looking at ten different but common soft tissue injuries, their symptoms, and common causes.
Blood capillaries are delicate and transfer rich nutrients and oxygen from the bloodstream to the muscles of the body. When blood capillaries rupture they leak blood to the surrounding area and cause discoloration, discomfort, and sensitivity to the touch. While this may all sound dramatic, a contusion is a medical term for a bruise and nothing more. A bruise is certainly not life-threatening, but it is uncomfortable and should be attended to by applying ice to it in order to cool the blood vessels, reduce swelling and discoloration.
Strains and Sprains
The only difference between strains and sprains is that they occur in different parts of the body but otherwise share similar symptoms and causes. A sprain is a stretching or tearing of the bands of fibrous tissue that connect bones together at the joints. Sprains are common in knees and ankles and often are the result of a bad step, heavy lifting or strenuous sporting activities. Strains occur when there is tearing or stretching of muscles and tendons, these injuries are most common in the hamstrings which are the muscles behind the thigh/knee. Strains also take place in the lower back and are difficult to treat.
Lacerations are easy to identify as they are open skin wounds that expose the soft layers of tissue below. The cuts can range from mild to severe and require attention regardless in order to prevent infection. Lacerations can occur from a wide variety of incidents and accidents and are of course uncomfortable and sensitive to touch.
Abrasions can have varying degrees and affect the layers of the skin. Essentially friction burns, abrasions can affect the top layer of the skin (epidermis) the second layer (dermis) and the third layer (subcutaneous fat.) Depending on their severity, abrasions should be taken care of by cleansing the area and covering the soft tissue injury from further damage.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is common and affects over eight million people each year. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome occurs when one of the major nerves of the hand is compressed as it travels through the wrist. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome results in tingling and numbness of the hand that if left untreated can mean a lack of coordination and weakness of the fingers and thumb. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can affect anyone at any age, but it is common in older individuals.
Whiplash is an injury of the neck that occurs when the head moves suddenly backward and then forward. This injury is common in car accidents as the sudden stop of movement jerks the body around. Whiplash is not an often recognized soft tissue injury. It is often not even felt right away but develops over the course of days or even weeks. Whiplash is extremely uncomfortable and can make even the most basic head movements painful. Whiplash should be treated by a professional.
Bursas are small sacs of fluid that help lubricate joints and thus prevent friction. Bursitis occurs when the sacs of fluid become inflamed and do not lubricate properly, therefore, leading to stiffness and swelling of the joints, knees, hips or shoulders. Bursitis is caused by injury and can be treated by a medical professional.
Tendinitis is an inflammation of the tendons in the body and is usually a result of strain or infection. Tendinitis causes pain and tenderness on the affected area and is a soft tissue injury that can become very tedious and painful over time. Tendinitis is a common soft tissue injury of athletes who push their body to the limits but can also affect those who are coming out of a sedentary lifestyle and pushing themselves too hard.
Avulsions occur when chunks of the skin or sometimes even muscle are ripped from the body. Avulsions are usually quite serious as they pose a great threat of infection and should be tended to right away. Avulsions are often the result of a violent impact and can be accompanied by other soft tissue injuries.
Myofascial pain is the name given to tenderness and pain on a particular muscle or group of muscles. Myofascial pain often becomes chronic if left untreated and can make everyday activities difficult to complete. Myofascial pain should be looked at by a medical professional who can recommend proper treatment.
Soft Tissue Injury Prevention and Treatment
While preventing soft tissue injuries is often easier said than done, seeking the proper treatment is completely in your hands. Soft tissue injuries can increase in discomfort and pain over time, and it is important that they are diagnosed and treated as soon as possible. There are many treatments available and medication that can soothe the pain and discomfort.
Since most soft tissue injuries do not show up on x-rays, they can be difficult to prove, and this is something to keep in mind. Soft tissue injuries can lead to loss of work, loss of overall life quality and more. To seek proper compensation in car accidents or work-related injuries, it is important that these injuries are diagnosed as soon as possible. Even if you do not feel any symptoms right away be sure to get checked out to protect your interests and protect yourself from any further hardships.
Soothe Your Body
Heat pads, massages, colling therapies and even more intense physical programs are available and should be considered for any soft tissue injury. Remember that your body is your temple, and the inner workings of it are vital to your quality of life. Rest, compression, ice, elevation, all if necessary. Listen to your body, and you will be back to full health in no time!
Soft Tissue Injury Conclusion
Now you know what some common soft tissue injuries are and how to spot them best. Treatment can be just a few days' rests or a more intense therapy, but in the end, it will be worth it. Be sure to protect yourself with proper gear when engaging in sports, be yourself, be free and enjoy what life has to give!