Soft Tissue Injury

What is a Soft Tissue Injury?

Soft tissue injuries are injuries to the muscles, tendons, and ligaments and can range from mild to severe. They are often referred to as sprains, strains, or contusions. These injuries can be caused by a single, traumatic event, such as a fall, or can be caused by overuse, such as repetitive motions or improper technique. Soft tissue injuries are common in any sport or activity, but can be particularly common in contact sports like rugby and football.

Types of Soft Tissue Injury

There are three primary types of soft tissue injuries: sprains, strains, and contusions.

  • Sprains: Sprains are caused by stretching or tearing the ligaments that connect two bones together. Sprains can range from minor to very severe, with the more severe causing partial or full tears of the ligament.

  • Strains: Strains are caused by stretching or tearing of a muscle or tendon. Strains can range from minor to severe, and may be due to a sudden, traumatic event, or due to an overuse injury.

  • Contusions: Contusions are a type of soft tissue injury that is caused by a direct blow to the muscle or tendon. Contusions can range from mild to severe, and involve both damage to the muscle as well as bruising.

Signs and Symptoms of Soft Tissue Injury

Common signs and symptoms associated with soft tissue injuries include:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Stiffness
  • Bruising
  • Difficulty moving the affected area
  • Feeling of instability or “giving way”
  • Reduced range of motion
  • Decreased strength of the affected area

Treatment of Soft Tissue Injury

The treatment of a soft tissue injury depends on the severity and location of the injury. Some treatments may include:

  • Rest: Resting the affected area is necessary to allow the injury to heal. It is important to take this step to ensure that the injury does not worsen.
  • Ice: Placing an ice pack on the affected area can help to reduce pain, inflammation, and swelling. Ice should be applied for 15-20 minutes at a time, 2-4 times per day.
  • Compression: Applying an elastic bandage or sling to help to provide support and stability to the affected area.
  • Elevation: Elevating the affected area above the heart can help to reduce swelling.
  • Exercise: Rehabilitation exercises may be necessary to restore strength, flexibility, and range of motion to the affected area, as well as to minimize scar tissue.
  • Medication: Painkillers, anti-inflammatories, or corticosteroids may be prescribed to reduce pain and inflammation.

Prevention of Soft Tissue Injury

In order to avoid a soft tissue injury, it is important to practice proper technique, use the correct equipment, and warm up properly before engaging in any physical activity or sport. Additionally, a proper strength and conditioning program can help to strengthen muscles and tendons and reduce the risk of a soft tissue injury.