Soft tissue damage to the tendon, muscles, or ligament can become permanent if the affected region is not given enough time and proper treatment to heal.
While minor injuries may heal fully over time, other soft tissue injuries can produce long-term or permanent consequences that may require you to make lifestyle changes.
What Are Soft Tissue Injuries?
Soft tissue injuries are trauma-induced bruises to the skin, tendon, muscles, or ligament. These differ from fractures, which impact hard tissue such as bone.
According to OrthoInfo, some common types of soft tissue injuries are:
- Contusion: A contusion is a bruise to the soft tissue caused by blunt force trauma, such as a direct or repeated blow to a body part. The force of the impact causes the blood vessels beneath the skin to rupture, resulting in discoloration of the skin in the affected area. In severe cases, a contusion could signify internal bleeding or another serious condition.
- Tendonitis: Tendonitis is the inflammation of a tendon, a thick and fibrous cord-like tissue that connects the muscle to bone.
- Bursitis: Bursitis is characterized by inflammation of bursae, fluid-filled sacs present all over the body, providing a cushion between bones and tendons or muscles.
- Strain: A strain refers to the sudden pulling, twisting, overstretching, or tearing of a tendon, a connective tissue linking muscles to bones. Strains usually occur at the back of the leg.
- Sprain: A sprain impacts the ligament, a band of connective tissue linking bones together. It occurs when a sudden twisting of your body forces the ligament to stretch beyond its normal range. The areas most susceptible to sprains include wrists, ankles, and knees.
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Healing Process of a Soft Tissue Injury
The soft tissue injury’s healing timeline differs based on several factors, such as the person’s overall health, the injury’s severity, and the type. Generally, soft tissue healing occurs across the following distinct but overlapping stages:
- Acute inflammatory phase: This phase occurs within 6-8 hours after an injury, peaks between 1-3 days, then slowly subsides over the subsequent weeks. You will notice inflammation, pain, warmth, and redness around the injury site.
- Repair phase: Once the inflammation resolves, the body begins to repair the soft tissue injury by generating materials such as collagen and new local blood vessels. The repair phase can last up to 2-3 weeks. You may be advised to immobilize the affected joint to avoid further damage and improve the healing quality and pace.
- Remodeling phase: The body begins to stimulate and strengthen new tissue growth until it can perform its normal functions. Remodeling can take anywhere between weeks, months, or years to fully complete, depending on its severity.
Soft tissue injuries take plenty of time to heal through the three phases. Failing to give your body sufficient time to recover opens you up for further damage.
Soft Tissue Damage Scale
Soft tissue injuries can be graded on a scale from one to three:
- Grade 1: A mild strain or sprain with possible microscopic tears that produce little to no impact on the joint. It may also accompany mild tenderness or swelling. Mild injuries often heal on their own within a few weeks.
- Grade 2: Moderate strain or sprain that involves partial tear to the tissue. You may feel pain when attempting to apply weight to the affected area. Most Grade 2 injuries could heal with sufficient rest, but sometimes surgery may be necessary.
- Grade 3: This category includes injuries that have completely ruptured the muscle, tendon, or ligament. It accompanies severe pain, swelling, and loss of mobility in the affected joint or limb. Treatment will likely include surgery.
Severe/Catastrophic Soft Tissue Damage
Severe injuries, such as the ones categorized as Grade 2 or 3, can potentially leave long-term consequences. Severe soft tissue injuries can produce scars or disfigurement. You could even lose mobility in the affected area. Furthermore, it can also cause chronic pain, chronic numbness, and loss of muscle strength.
If you sustain a catastrophic soft tissue injury, you may also face financial setbacks, as the injury could prevent you from returning to work or limit the types of jobs you can do. The injury could demand long-term physical and occupational therapy as part of recovery. In extreme cases, you may need long-term in-home or nursing home care.
Some signs that could signify a catastrophic soft tissue injury include:
- Hearing a pop or crack when the injury happens
- Inability to place weight on the injured area
- Experiencing numbness or a pricking sensation at the injury site or the surrounding area
- Experiencing pain around major bone structures
- Visible deformity at the area of injury
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How Can a Personal Injury Claim Help with Soft Tissue Damage?
Soft tissue injuries are common in tragedies such as motor vehicle accidents, slip and fall incidents, pedestrian accidents, etc. If your soft tissue injury resulted from someone else’s negligence, you could have them cover your medical expenses and other losses from the accident through filing a personal injury claim.
This way, you do not have to struggle with paying for surgeries, physical therapy, and other expenses out of pocket.
Call for a Free Consultation Today
Contact Bader Scott Injury Lawyers for a free consultation where we can inform you of your options to secure a settlement after suffering a soft tissue injury. You can focus on your recovery while our attorneys fight for you.