What is a Soft Tissue Injury?
A Soft tissue injury is the damage of muscles, ligaments or tendons throughout the body. Some common examples include knee and ankle sprain, rotator cuff tendonitis, hip bursitis. Swelling, bruising, loss of function, and pain usually accompany soft tissue injuries. You may also have redness, loss of motion, and tenderness.
Some common soft tissue injuries are sprains and strains. A sprain is when a ligament gets overstretched and injured. It can produce swelling and inflammation of the affected area. A strain is equivalent to a sprain but involves tendons instead of ligaments. There are three degrees of sprains/ strains:
- 1st degree - a microtearing of a ligament or tendon.
- 2nd degree - a partial tearing of a ligament or tendon, which can cause minimal instability.
- 3rd degree - a full tear of the ligament or tendon, which can cause severe instability, and may need surgery or immobilization.
Repetitive Stress Injuries
These injuries are most commonly referred to as overuse syndromes. It usually involves overuse of a muscle, tendon or ligament, caused by repetitive movements, and being in awkward position for a prolonged period of time. By not treating these conditions you can develop tears in the affected area. Stress injuries result in:
- Contusion - a bruise where blood vessels are damaged by trauma and blood seeps into the region.
- Tendinitis - inflammation of a tendon. Common tendonitis includes Rotator cuff, Achilles, and Patellar.
- Bursitis - inflammation of a bursa, a small sac that eases friction between tendon and bone. Common areas of bursitis occur in elbows, knees,shoulders and hips.
Preventing Soft Tissue Injury
Individuals can not always prevent soft tissue injuries, especially during sport and exercise, but there are few ways to try minimizing your risk for injury:
- always stretch before and after sport or exercise
- warm up before and cool down after exercise
- when feeling tired, take breaks
- strengthen and condition muscles that are weak and prone to injury
- regularly move around and stretch, refrain from being in any position for too long
It is also very important to learn the proper body mechanics for an exercise or sport. The risk of injury increases when practicing with poor form.