What Are Soft Tissue Injuries?
Soft tissue injuries occur when a person sustains damage to his or her muscles, tendons, or ligaments. These types of injuries usually cause pain, swelling, and bruising and can take a significant amount of time to heal. Treatment may even require surgery and physical therapy and can be prohibitively expensive, so if you live in Charlotte and recently sustained a soft tissue injury in an accident caused by another person’s negligent or reckless behavior, it is important to contact an experienced personal injury attorney who can help protect your interests.
Soft tissue injuries are often caused by over-stressing or straining one of the following:
- Tendons, which are the fibrous bands that hold muscles to bones;
- Ligaments, which hold bones together; and
Injuries to these soft tissues is usually caused by some sort of trauma. For instance, acute soft tissue injuries are often caused by a sudden impact, such as a blow to the body, a fall, or an abrupt twisting motion. Alternatively, a person could suffer from a soft tissue injury as a result of overuse or making a repetitive motion over a long period of time.
Examples of soft tissue injuries include:
- Bruises, which are caused by damage to small blood vessels;
- Sprains, which are caused by the tearing of the fibers in the ligaments that reinforce joints and hold bones together;
- Strains, which occur when the fibrous bands that hold muscles to bones are overstressed; and
- Muscle contusions, which are the result of torn muscle fibers.
Sprains occur when the ligaments connecting the end of one bone to another are stretched or torn, usually as a result of a severe twisting motion. There are a few areas of the body that are especially vulnerable to sprains, including:
- Knees; and
A sprain’s severity is rated on a scale of one to three. For instance, a Grade 1 sprain is considered mild and is the result of slight stretching and minor damage to a ligament’s fibers. A Grade 2 sprain, on the other hand, is more serious and is usually indicative of a partial tear, which creates an abnormal looseness in the joint. The most severe sprains are known as Grade 3 sprains and are characterized by a completely torn ligament. Grade 3 sprains cause serious instability and make the affected joint essentially nonfunctional. Although mild sprains usually only require icing and rest, the more severe types of sprains may require surgical repair and months of physical therapy.
Strains occur most often in the foot, leg, and back, where the tendons attach muscles to the bone and are usually indicative of over-stretching. However, in severe cases, the tendon may partially or completely tear. Standard symptoms include pain, cramping, muscle spasms, and muscle weakness.
Bruises, which are also known as contusions are caused by a direct blow to the muscle fibers and connective tissue underlying the skin. Bruises are primarily characterized by discoloration of the skin, which is caused by blood pooling around the injury. Most bruises are mild, although painful, and heal relatively quickly with regular icing and rest.
With any of these injuries, the injured party usually experiences pain, swelling, redness, and bruising. Victims may also experience a restricted range of motion that makes it difficult to complete everyday tasks. Although these symptoms will abate over time, the rate at which an injury heals depends largely on the age and general health of the injured party as well as the severity of the injury. For instance, particularly severe tears may require physical therapy or surgery to reattach a ligament or tendon and so take many months to fully heal.
Generally, soft tissue injuries heal completely within one to six weeks. However, the speed at which these types of injuries heal also depends on the injured party’s diligence in taking the following steps:
- Performing gentle exercises to improve muscle strength, joint flexibility, and balance;
- Gently stretching to help minimize stiffness and increase flexibility;
- Slowly increasing activity levels over time;
- Taking anti-inflammatory medications as directed;
- Following up with treating physicians;
- Resting and avoiding strenuous activities within the first three days after the injury;
- Icing for 15-20 minutes every one to two hours;
- Applying a firm compression bandage that does not restrict circulation or cause further pain;
- Elevating the affected limb above the level of the heart; and
- Avoiding applying heat or consuming alcohol in the first three days after the accident as this can increase swelling.
Severe strains and sprains can make movement extremely painful, so some victims require prescription pain medication immediately following the injury, especially if the tendon or ligament had to be surgically repaired. Physical therapy can also be helpful, especially for severe injuries as a lack of movement and stretching can cause the ligament or tendon to become extremely tight, which is both painful and potentially dangerous as it leaves the area vulnerable to further injury. Paying for these treatments can quickly overwhelm a victim’s finances, making it especially important for those who have suffered soft tissue injuries as a result of someone else’s negligence to seek the aid of an experienced attorney who can represent their interests.
Contact us to Speak With a Dedicated Personal Injury Attorney
Although soft tissue injuries are often less serious than broken bones or head trauma, they can be painful and take weeks, months, or even years to fully heal. At Ted A. Greve & Associates, P.A., our legal team is dedicated to helping those who have been injured as a result of someone else’s negligent or reckless behavior collect compensation for their losses, so that they can move on with their lives and begin the long road to recovery. If you live in Charlotte and were recently injured in an accident, please contact us by completing one of our brief contact forms or by starting a live chat with an experienced Charlotte NC personal injury attorney who, after evaluating your case, can help explain your legal options.