Soft tissue injuries and how Physical Therapy can benefit recovery
Soft tissue injuries are more common than people may realize. In fact, anyone with an undiagnosed pain in his or her body may be suffering from a soft tissue injury.
According to Delaware Integrative Healthcare, bone injuries garner significant attention because broken bones and fractures can be very serious. But soft tissue injuries, when left untreated, also can be troublesome and jeopardize individuals’ athletic pursuits.
Verywell Health defines soft tissue injuries as trauma to any muscle, skin, tendon or ligament in the body. Injuries may result from overuse or acute trauma, which is an external force applied to the body. Common examples of soft tissue injuries are lacerations, abrasions, contusions, sprains/strains, bursitis and tendinitis.
Strains are injuries to muscles or tendons and sprains are injuries to ligaments, which are elastic bands of tissue that connect and stabilize bones. Both strains and sprains are common soft tissue injuries. Bursitis and tendinitis also are common. Bursitis is an inflammation of the bursa, a fluid-filled sac that provides a cushion between the bones and muscles or tendons. Tendinitis is an inflammation of the tendons, which connect muscles to bones.
Many minor (Grade 1) soft tissue injuries that involve muscles, tendons and ligaments may heal when injured persons follow the protocol known as R.I.C.E., which is an acronym for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. R.I.C.E. is widely recommended for these types of injuries. However, more serious soft tissue injuries may take extended time to heal. Some of these injuries also may lead to permanent changes in muscles, tendons and ligaments, causing certain body parts to cease functioning how they used to. That may be the case with Grade 2 (moderate) or Grade 3 (severe) injuries. Further medical attention may be needed and physical therapy may be prescribed.
The Ace Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine Institute said soft tissue injuries account for most of the injuries that outpatient physical therapists treat. A therapist will analyze the type of injury and the pain or impairment it is causing to develop a rehabilitation program. Physical therapists often perform various treatments geared toward reducing swelling and inflammation. Manual therapies to help restore normal motion also are part of soft tissue treatment plans. Stretching and strengthening exercises may be incorporated to improve endurance and repair soft tissue. Orthotic therapy may be needed to correct certain imbalances, advises Algonquin Chiropractic Center. Physical therapists also can educate patients about how to strengthen the body to help reduce risk for future injuries.
Soft tissue injuries are common and usually can resolve with rest. Guided physical therapy may be prescribed for more severe cases.