Soft tissue injuries (STIs) occur when muscles, tendons or ligaments suffer trauma. Usually STIs result from sudden, unexpected, or uncontrolled actions such as a fall, twist or blow. Examples are sprains, strains, and contusions.
STIs can also occur from overuse or fatigued muscles and tendons due to repetitive activity without giving the body a chance to recover. Examples include bursitis and tendonitis. The result is pain, swelling, bruising, and tissue damage. Most people don’t consider soft tissue injuries as serious as a fracture or a break, but if you are suffering from a deep bruise or sprain, you know the pain often range from an inconvenience to debilitating. Here some common STIs and treatments:
The most common STIs are explained here:
- Contusions (bruises) can occur from a blunt force, such as a kick, fall, or blow, and occur when the underlying muscle fibers and connective tissue get crushed. Blood pools around the surrounding tissue cause discoloration.
- Sprains are tears, over-stretching, or trauma to a ligament that affect the ankles, knees, and wrists.
- Strains are injuries to muscles or tendons caused by overuse, force, or stretching. Strains can vary in severity, from stretching of the muscle or tendon to a complete tear of the tendon from the muscle. Strains commonly occur in the foot, back of the leg (hamstring), and back.
- Tendonitis is the inflammation of the tendon due to overuse from repetitive motion and stress. Elbows, hands, wrists, shoulders, hips, knees, ankles, and feet are vulnerable to tendonitis.
- Bursitis is the inflammation of the bursa, a fluid-filled sac that cushions bones and muscles or tendons. Bursitis often is caused by an overuse injury, but also by direct trauma to a joint. Bursitis commonly affects the shoulder, elbow, knee, hip, ankle, and foot.
- Stress injuries are small cracks in a bone, commonly occurring in the weight-bearing bones of the lower extremities, including legs, hips, and feet.
Symptoms of STIs
If you suffer an STI, expect pain and swelling, as well as stiffness and oftentimes bruising. More severe sprains and strains may cause instability, especially in weight-bearing joints like the hip, knee, and ankle.
The PRICE is Right to Treat STIs
The acronym PRICE – Protect, Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate – will help you remember what to do in case you experience an STI.
- Protect or minimize the use of the affected area to prevent further aggravation or damage.
- Rest by taking a break from the activity to allow time to heal.
- Ice on and off in 20-minute intervals, avoiding direct contact with skin.
- Compress by bandaging the injury to compress with ace bandages or tape to prevent additional swelling and ensure stability.
- Elevate the injured structure above the heart while resting to reduce swelling.
When is Medical Help Necessary?
In case of severe trauma, it is advisable to seek medical help immediately for a detailed assessment and diagnosis. An STI requires medical attention if:
- You cannot put weight on the injured area.
- The affected structure looks deformed or abnormal.
- You heard a popping or cracking sound at the time of injury.
- The surrounding bone is painful.
- You experience numbness, tingling, or pins and needles.
If severe pain persists after the first 24 hours medical help should be sought.
A doctor may order nerve conduction studies, electrodiagnosis or MRIs to localize nerve dysfunction, assess severity, differentiate between myopathy and neuropathy and help with prognosis. For certain injuries, stem cell treatment may be in order to restore damaged tissue.
If you have suffered an STI and still have pain, call National Stem Cell Centers at (646) 448-0427 or (516) 403-1457 today or use our convenient online appointment request form to schedule your visit.