What Are Soft Tissue Injuries?

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Soft Tissue Injuries And Healing Process

Soft connective tissues are tissues that consist of fat, ligaments, and muscles, along with small blood vessels. These tissues connect body organs and other structures to each other. Soft tissues contain muscles, tendons, fascia, ligaments, fibrous tissues, fats, nerves, synovial membranes, and blood vessels. Soft tissue injuries can occur during exercise or sports activities or while performing daily activities and habits. These injuries can develop due to impact, as well as due to sprains or strains.

What Is Soft Tissue Injury? Why Does It Happen?

Soft tissue injuries are injuries that occur in muscles, tendons, or ligaments. Strains occur when tendons, which are tissues that connect muscles to bones, are overstretched and muscles or tendons are damaged. Sprains occur when ligaments, which are fibrous tissue bands that hold bones together, are stretched.
Soft tissue injuries can happen to anyone, but they are more likely to occur in people who overuse their joints or make sudden movements. People who do the same job or the same movements repeatedly or athletes are more likely to suffer from soft tissue injuries. It can also develop as a result of sudden movements such as running or jumping. Another cause of soft tissue injuries is trauma to these tissues.

What Are The Types Of Soft Tissue Injury?

Soft tissue injuries are classified as bruises, also called contusions, sprains, tendonitis, bursitis, stress injuries, strains and strains.

The details of the types of injuries in question are as follows:

  • Contusions (Bruises): These occur when you fall or are hit by a hard object. Bleeding in the tissue can cause pain, swelling, or discoloration in the area. The treatment process includes rest, ice therapy, compression, and elevation. In cases of severe bruises, a doctor’s examination is necessary.
  • Sprains: Partial tears in ligaments are called sprains. The ankle and knee can be affected due to the bending of the foot. Healing occurs with treatment methods such as elevation, compression, ice application, and rest. However, if the ligaments are completely torn, the repair must be done surgically.
  • Tendonitis: Tendons, which are flexible tissues that connect muscles to bones, can also become inflamed. This is called tendinitis. Tendinitis can be caused by overuse of a certain area or by repeating the same movements with that area. It can occur in the elbow, hands and feet, wrist and ankle, hip, knee, and shoulder. In addition to rest, elevation, and compression, anti-inflammatory drugs are also effective in the treatment process. If chronic pain persists after tendinitis, steroid injections are recommended, and surgery is recommended if the tendon is completely torn.
  • Bursitis: Bursa, a fluid-filled sac that acts as a cushion between tendons and muscles, can also become inflamed. This is called bursitis. Bursitis can be caused by overuse of a certain area or joint trauma. It can occur in the shoulder, elbow, hip, knee, foot, and ankle. Compression, rest, and elevation treatments can be used together with anti-inflammatory drugs. If bursitis is caused by infection, antibiotics may be required.
  • Stress Injuries: Cracks in load-bearing bones in the legs, hips, or feet are called stress injuries. Stress injuries are usually caused by excessive physical activity. First, treatment methods such as ice, elevation, or anti-inflammatory drugs are used. In necessary cases, the area where the stress injuries occur is immobilized with various medical devices. In cases where stress injuries turn into fractures, surgery may be required for complete treatment.
  • Strains and Sprains: Muscles or tendons are damaged due to overuse or exertion. This is how strain and sprain occur. Rest, ice applications, and elevation are healing treatments, but surgery is used in cases of muscle rupture.

Another classification of soft tissue injuries is acute and chronic. Symptoms such as swelling, numbness, discolouration and sensitivity occur in acute soft tissue traumas. Such injuries, which vary in frequency and severity according to the physiological structure of the person, usually last between 1 and 6 weeks. Chronic soft tissue traumas tend to recur frequently. Therefore, people should avoid making sudden movements.

Soft tissue injuries are also classified according to their severity. Grade 1 mild injuries are characterised by pain and swelling and it is likely that some fibres have been torn. No loss of function and strength occurs. Grade 2 moderate injuries are accompanied by fibre tears and loss of function. In grade 3 severe injuries, the soft tissues are completely damaged and surgical intervention is required for treatment.

Diagnosis And Treatment Of Soft Tissue Injuries

During the physical examination, information such as past injuries, how often, for how long and with what intensity the pain manifests itself, which movements reduce and increase the pain is decisive for the diagnosis. Neurological tests may be ordered if necessary. Imaging methods such as MRI can also be used to determine the extent of the damage. The treatment of soft tissue injuries that occur with damage to soft tissues varies according to which tissues are damaged and the severity of the injury.

In soft tissue injuries, basic treatment methods such as rest, ice applications, wound dressing and keeping the area elevated are applied first. However, in cases where the severity of the injuries is more severe, physical therapy and rehabilitation applications may be applied and the patient may be asked to perform some exercises. Exercise therapy starts in a way that does not strain the joints and the intensity is increased over time. If all these treatment methods are not successful, surgical methods are used. Surgical intervention is inevitable in cases of third degree sprains, meniscus tears, muscle and ligament tears. Arthroscopic surgery is the most frequently used surgical method to eliminate such problems.

Soft Tissue Injuries Healing Process

The healing process in soft tissue injuries varies according to the severity of the damage. For example, in 1st or 2nd degree sprains, patients recover between 1 and 2 weeks. However, if the severity of the sprain is 3rd or 4th degree, recovery may take 2 to 4 weeks. After tissue damage occurs, healing can occur spontaneously if the area is not continued to be strained and rested. However, in cases such as infection or inflammation, it is recommended that the treatment be carried out under the supervision of a doctor. In cases where people do not realise the severity of the injury and continue to strain their joints, more serious damage is likely to occur. Therefore, at the slightest suspicion, a doctor should be consulted.

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