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What is a Soft Tissue Injury?

A soft tissue injury is a damage to the soft tissues of the body such as the muscles, tendons, and ligaments. It excludes injuries to the bones and internal organs such as the lungs and heart. Soft tissue injuries may be caused by an overuse injury or trauma.

Types of Soft Tissue Injury

Based on the causes, there are different kinds of soft tissue injury:

  • Contusion: Also known as a bruise, this occurs when blood collects in the tissues due to injury to the blood vessels leading to discoloration and swelling. Contusions can occur when the tissues and muscle fibers are crushed against each other due to a blunt force.
  • Sprain: Stretching or tearing of a ligament due to over-stretching or twisting, resulting in instability of the joint. Based on severity, sprains are classified into:
    • Grade 1 (mild): Small damage due to minimal stretching
    • Grade 2 (moderate): Partial tear of the ligaments resulting in moderate damage
    • Grade 3 (severe): Tissue is completely damaged
  • Strain: This is an injury to the tendons and muscles caused by over-stretching and can lead to muscle weakness.
  • Tendonitis: Inflammation of a tendon is often caused by repetitive movements.
  • Bursitis: Inflammation of a bursa or bursae - fluid-filled sacs present between the muscles and tendons to reduce friction at the joints. This condition is caused by an overuse injury or continuous movements.

Symptoms of Soft Tissue Injury

Symptoms of soft tissue injury include:

  • Pain
  • Inflammation
  • Joint instability
  • Skin discoloration
  • Bleeding
  • Difficulty with movement
  • Muscle weakness
  • Loss of sensation

Diagnosis of Soft Tissue Injury

Your doctor will review your symptoms and medical history and perform a physical examination. The injured area is assessed for blood vessel and nerve damage, as well as any impact on joint movement. The following diagnostic tests may be ordered:

  • X-rays: This study uses high-energy electromagnetic beams to produce images of the bones and help detect fractures or abnormalities.
  • Ultrasound scan: This study uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images of the tendons, ligaments, and muscles.
  • MRI Scan: This study uses a large magnetic field and radio waves to produce clear images of the soft tissues and can help in detecting damage.

Treatment for Soft Tissue Injury

Treatment for soft tissue injury is based on the severity of the condition. Some common treatment methods include:

Conservative methods

  • PRICE method: This is the most common method that helps control bleeding and protects against further damage. It involves:
    • Protection: A sling, tape, or a cast may be applied to immobilize and protect the healing tissues, preventing further injury or damage.
    • Rest: Resting and avoiding strenuous activities reduces stress on the injured area, controlling inflammation and allowing the tissue to heal.
    • Ice: Applying ice to the affected area helps reduce swelling and slow bleeding.
    • Compression: Pressure may be applied to reduce swelling and promote healing.
    • Elevation: Keeping the affected area raised above the heart level reduces blood pressure in the area.
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs: These medications help to reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Physical therapy: Your doctor may recommend physical therapy to strengthen muscles, tendons, and ligaments.

Surgical method

For severe injuries such as a complete tear in a tendon or ligament, repair or reconstructive surgery may be recommended.

Preventive Measures for Soft Tissue Injury

Preventive measures for soft tissue injury include:

  • Make sure to drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.
  • Perform a warm-up before exercise or sports, followed by a cool-down session at the end.
  • Wear proper-fitting clothes, footwear, and protective gear.
  • Introduce a balanced fitness program into your routine, including exercises to improve strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular health.
  • Ensure adequate rest after a heavy workout and between exercise sessions to avoid fatigue and enhance tissue healing.

Location & Direction

Practice Location


820 S. Akers St.
Ste 220,
Visalia, CA 93277

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