What is a soft tissue injury, and how do they occur?

Soft tissue injuries can be extremely painful and debilitating, especially if they limit movement in the affected area. Sprains and strains are the most common type of soft tissue injury and usually affect muscles, tendons, and ligaments. A soft tissue injury is aninjury to any tissue that connects or supports bones and organs within the body. Soft tissue injuries can often occur when there is trauma to a certain part of the body, but a bone does not have to be broken. Often, these injuries are seen in patients who have been in road accidents, but they can occur from a variety of movements or exercises.

Common types of soft tissue injuries

Sprains – generally ankle or wrist sprains, often caused by falling on the area or excessive exercise for ankles.
Strains – generally in the back or legs and often caused by exercising (particularly without a proper warm-up).
Golfers / Tennis elbow – not just caused by the past-time it’s been named after, tennis elbow is often caused by repetitive strain from computer or mouse work.
Contusions – Bruising to an area, often as a result of a direct blow.
Tendonitis – An inflamed tendon often caused by overuse or lack of warm-up when exercising.
Bursitis – a bursa is a small fluid-filled sac that is a cushion between tendons and bones. Bursitis occurs when the bursa becomes sore and inflamed.

Soft tissue injuries can occur anywhere in the body, but the ankles, knees and wrists are particularly vulnerable to this type of injury. When you land sharply or twist from a fall, your joints can turn inward, which puts tension on the corresponding ligament and can cause a sprain.

By contrast, a strain is an injury that affects the muscles and tendons. These injuries occur when the body’s fibrous tissue gets stretched too far or tears. Other injuries like tendonitis involve inflammation or irritation of muscles and tendons, stemming from stress or repetitive use that eventually manifests in pain. One thing that connects all soft tissue injuries is the extended period of time they may take to heal and how past injuries could affect your body’s future performance.

Are soft tissue injuries serious and permanent?

Soft tissue injuries can occur when your muscles, tendons, or ligaments experience some kind of trauma. These injuries usually happen suddenly, like when you twist your ankle after taking a misstep. But they can also happen gradually over time if you overuse certain muscles without giving them a chance to recover from your last workout. If you continue working out with too much intensity, the same muscles will experience repeated trauma or strain, and that can lead to a soft tissue injury.

Because of this, athletes are now more likely to experience tears and injuries in this area in the future, especially if they jump back into training with the same intensity and don’t give their bodies enough time to recover. In some cases, people can develop chronic soft tissue injuries that last a lifetime and prevent them from doing certain activities.

When a soft tissue injury occurs, many individuals immediately feel pain, although this symptom may be delayed in some cases. In addition, swelling and stiffness are common after a soft tissue injury. Finally, bruising may occur 24 to 48 hours after the injury. As a result, the individual may find they cannot put their weight on the injured area – an issue common with injuries involving the hip, knee and ankle.

Recovering from soft tissue injuries with a physiotherapist

Whether you have recently sustained a soft tissue injury or you are living with a past injury that has never properly healed, you may be looking for ways to improve your pain and manage your symptoms. Soft tissue injuries are generally graded between 1-3. Let’s take a more in-depth look at each injury grade and what it means.

Grade 1

If you have had a grade 1 soft tissue injury, you may have been advised to rest, use ice and compression and elevate the area of injury. You will also have been advised to stay off the muscle until it has recovered and to help it recover quickly. Failure to follow this advice may result in further trauma to the area and will prolong the recovery time.

Grade 2

Grade 2 soft tissue injuries may take more time to resolve themselves but will follow advice and guidance similar to grade 1. You may also find that painkillers and physiotherapy visits are advised to assist and support recovery times. Depending on the level of injury, you may be waiting for a soft tissue injury to heal for longer than you would wait for a broken bone to heal!

Grade 3

The recovery of soft tissue injuries doesn’t just depend on the level of injury and the advice you are given. Multiple factors play a part, including your age, health and occupation. Grade 3 soft tissue injuries can end athletic careers as they can permanently damage or change the area of injury. The body part may not function like it used to, and this can greatly affect how an athlete performs. You will find that a physiotherapist gets involved during grade 3 soft tissue injuries to help prevent future or further damage to the area.

How can Physio Healing Hands help soft tissue injuries?

At Physio Healing Hands, we are experts in the management and improvement of chronic pain. If you have been living with a soft tissue injury for a long time and it doesn’t appear to be improving despite following advice and guidance, book a consultation with us to discuss your options. Here are some of the treatments we can provide that will help to alleviate your pain and symptoms:

K Laser Therapy K Laser therapy aims to stimulate your cells and improve the rate at which they are healing by using a heat laser to penetrate your musculoskeletal tissue deeply. K Laser therapy can be used in conjunction with other therapies and works particularly well with acupuncture.

Shockwave TherapyShockwave therapy takes advantage of acoustic shockwaves that target the affected area and stimulate blood flow to the injured tendon or muscle. Increased blood flow will help to speed up recovery times.

Massage Therapy – We often use massage therapy as a secondary treatment to other treatments we offer, however massage therapy still forms an important part of physiotherapy. Using deep tissue massage therapy, we can promote healthy cell growth and increased blood flow to the area, as well as to loosen any stiff and tight joints, muscles and tendons.

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Physio Healing Hands is your local chronic pain physiotherapist

At Physio Healing Hands, we don’t believe in a one size fits all approach. By having an in-depth consultation with each of our clients, we can identify any concerns and injuries you have, how long you have had the injury and any particulars relating to your injury. From here, we will design a tailored treatment plan to help your recovery.

If you are currently living with a soft tissue injury and need the support of a qualified physiotherapist, get in touch with Physio Healing Hands today and book your consultation with a trusted member of our team.

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