Injury is a common problem faced by anyone and the complaints usually depend on the type of injury. Soft tissue injuries can be troublesome in some cases, but can be managed very well if timely treatment is received. There are different types of soft tissue injuries. Knowing about their symptoms and home remedies can help to manage injuries better. Soft tissue injuries must not be ignored and properly taken care of.
Soft Tissue Injuries
When the soft tissue or the ligaments of the body, undergo a trauma or an injury, they are called soft tissue injuries. Swelling of that particular region, along with varying degree of pain are the two most common symptoms of soft tissue injuries.
Different Types of Soft Tissue Injuries and Symptoms
There are different types of soft tissue injuries which can cause some severe problem in the long run. Common soft tissue injuries include bursitis, sprains, tendonitis, strains and contusions. The level of severity in a soft tissue injury completely depends upon impact and severity of the blow or trauma to the part. There are some serious soft tissue injuries which can lead to permanent dislocation of the bone or a fracture. Some types of soft tissue injuries can be mild and can cause difficulty in daily activities initially, but if proper treatment is not received, they can worsen causing severe damage.
Here are some different types of soft tissue injuries
Sprain is known to be one of the most common type of soft tissue injuries. Ligaments are the thick bands basically meant to provide support to the joint and the muscles around it. It helps to maintain the joint in position and allows appropriate movement. The disproportionate or awkward stretching of ligaments can result in sprains. This type of soft tissue injury commonly occurs when one tries to stretch the part like hand or leg beyond a particular limit, thus causing sprain or some degree of tear in the ligament.
Depending upon the impact of stretching, sprains can be differentiated into three types, which includes,
- First Degree Sprain (Grade 1) – Where only few of the ligaments get affected or damaged. Symptoms of minor sprains include mild pain and discomfort. Minimal swelling may or may not be present but joint function is mostly not affected much. The symptoms are often temporary and often improve with rest and treatment.
- Second degree sprain (Grade 2) – Where the muscular ligament goes through a partial tear. The pain intensity is slightly higher than the first degree sprain and can cause some swelling in the injured area. Moderate sprain can cause some degree of looseness in the joint and discomfort on particular movements.
- Third degree sprain (Grade 3) – Where the ligament goes through almost complete tear. The pain intensity is known to be the highest in third degree sprain. Noticeable swelling appears around the joint or the sprained area. Discoloration of skin and bruising may also be noted and the part becomes very sensitive to touch. Severe sprain usually causes greater degree of looseness in the joint and joint movements are greatly affected.
Our body movements depend on bones and the muscles in our body. The bones and muscles are attached to the bands of fibers known as tendons, which support both and facilitate proper movement. Strain is a type of soft tissue injury caused due to injury to the muscles or tendons of the body. Strain too is a result of overstretching of the muscle or tendon. Just like sprains, strains are also classified into three basic types, i.e. first, second and third, depending upon their intensity and the stretching of the muscles. Symptoms of strain commonly include pain, swelling in the area and muscle cramping or weakness. This type of soft tissue injury is more common in sports persons, dancers, gymnasts, etc.
Bruise or contusion is a yet another type of soft tissue injury which results from a direct blow to a body part, where there is injury to the muscle fibers or tissue underneath but the skin remains intact. Symptoms of bruise include discoloration in the area of the blow, which occurs as the blood gets accumulated in the underlying injured area. Pain is often present, but sometimes pain may be present only when the area is touched or pressed.
Tendons, which are the supporting structures or their covering can get inflamed, causing tendonitis. This type of soft tissue injury is more common in players or dancers and is considered as an overuse injury. Symptoms of tendonitis mainly include pain and swelling around the inflamed tendon, which often worsens when the part is exerted.
Bursae are small fluid filled sacs present in the body and around the joints, to provide lubrication and aid in movement. Inflammation of bursae is also a type of soft tissue injury and is known as bursitis and is usually an overuse injury. Repeated stress over the bursa and overuse of the joint leads to bursitis. The commonest joints involved include knee, ankle, hip, shoulder and elbow.
Soft tissue injuries are often caused due to awkward movements, overstrain or overstretching, direct blows, falls or sport injuries. Some people may experience a combination of soft injuries and may need appropriate care.
Symptoms of Soft Tissue Injuries
Soft tissue injuries can sometimes be difficult to assess, hence knowing the symptoms of soft tissue injuries is important. Some signs and symptoms of soft tissue injuries include:
- Pain – Degree of pain may vary according to the severity of the injury.
- Swelling – The injured area or the joint is often swollen. In moderate to severe injuries, the joint swelling can cause inability to move the joint.
- Tenderness – Any sort of pressure on the injured area results in pain which can increase gradually, if not treated in time.
- Bruising – The area of the body, which experiences soft tissue injury, often gets bruised and changes to bluish black color.
- Muscle Cramping and Weakness – The muscles in the injured area, often become weak and can have painful cramping. This indicates some injury to the muscle fibers.
- Restricted or Painful Movements – Soft tissue injuries often affect the support of the joint, making the joint unstable. Movements of the injured area can be painful and restricted due to the injury.
Remedies for Soft Tissue Injuries
Soft tissue injuries can be managed well with remedies or first aid treatment at home. Following this, depending on the symptoms and severity of the injury, medical advice can be sought. Here are some immediate remedies for soft tissue injuries:
- Rest – Immobilize the injured part and provide complete rest, to prevent further damage.
- Ice – Use ice packs, wrapped in a towel, on the injured area. It helps to control pain and swelling and promotes healing.
- Compression – If appropriate, in cases of severe swelling, compression bandage can help.
- Elevation – Elevate the injured part and rest it with support.
Most soft tissue injuries heal with the remedies as given in the RICE formula above.
Some type of soft tissue injuries may require medical treatment and the same should be followed with medical advice. For excessive pain and swelling, anti-inflammatory may be given. Some may be advised braces after the rest period, depending on the severity, area and the type of soft tissue injury. For some cases, which do not improve with proper treatment and rest, surgical treatment may be considered.