What Is "Soft Tissue Injury" And Why Does It Matter?

Your body is an incredible thing. Although it just looks like a collection of bones, tendons, and ligaments, it comes to life when you move. But when things go wrong, you certainly know about it.

Soft tissue injuries are a common kind of injury that can really put the brakes on your quality of life. But what exactly are they?

What Is A Soft Tissue Injury?

Soft tissue injuries refer to any injury of any internal soft tissue that is involved in movement. Tendons, muscles, and ligaments all count as soft tissues in this regard.

Soft tissue injuries are usually the result of sporting injuries, although they can result from anything your daily routine that puts excessive force or strain on the tissue. People often take legal action after a crash because of damage to the soft tissue in their body.

Exercise, however, is the main culprit. Continually doing the same activities in your training routine can lead to muscle breakdown, excessive straining on ligaments, or a pulled tendon, causing pain and swelling. Particularly common are injuries to the Achilles tendon and the hamstrings at the back of the leg.

How Do You Know If You Have A Strain Or A Sprain?

Most lay people use the words strain and sprain interchangeably. But they actually mean different things in a medical sense.

Strain injuries refer to damage or trauma to tendons, the semi-stretchy tissue that connects muscles to bones. Sprains, on the other hand, are injuries to ligaments, a similar kind of structure that links bones to bones.

Medical professionals grade sprains and strains in three categories: mild, moderate and severe, all characterized by different symptoms.

  • Mild sprains often result in a small amount of pain while stretching and could indicate that some of the fibers in the tissue are broken. These symptoms can be accompanied by a small amount of swelling and tenderness.

  • Moderate intensity sprains and strains are characterized by real, detectable tears in the muscle fiber, as well as a moderate swelling and pain. People with moderate sprains and strains cannot apply force to the affected joint for long periods of time.

  • Severe sprains sometimes referred to as “grade 3” sprains, involve total destruction of the tendon or ligament material. People with severe sprains or strains often cannot move the affected area without incurring pain.

How Long Does It Take To Recover?

Although soft tissue injuries might not seem as dramatic as broken bones or organ failure, they can be highly debilitating and mean that people cannot go to work or carry on with their regular family duties. One of the worst things about soft tissue injuries is how long they can take to recover, something that is particularly difficult for people who play sports professionally or rely on being able to move their bodies to work.

How long it takes to recover depends on the severity of the sprain. Mild sprains can usually be overcome between one and two weeks. Moderate sprains can take double that time. And severe sprains and strains often require many months for recovery and medical intervention.

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