Soft tissue injuries can result from car accidents, playing sports, and from everyday accidents, like tripping and falling. With the exception of contusions, soft tissue injuries are often impossible to detect by simply looking at the affected individual. However, they can be very painful and may even impair normal movement, requiring treatment at home or by a medical professional.
The basic types of soft tissue injuries include contusions, strains, sprains, and whiplash. Contusions, or bruises, are soft tissue injuries that are often sustained as the result of blunt force. An individual may develop contusions as the result of being hit or kicked, as well as by falling or slamming into a surface in a car accident. This type of soft tissue injury causes pain and swelling, as well as skin discoloration. The RICE treatment method is recommended for contusions, consisting of a combination of rest, ice application, compression, and elevation of the injured area.
Sprains are soft tissue injuries that affect the ligaments. Sprains of the wrists, knees, and ankles are very common and are the result of wrenching or twisting movements. Like contusions, sprains can be treated using the RICE method. In severe cases, however, surgery may be required to repair a badly damaged ligament.
Strains are soft tissue injuries that involve muscles or tendons. A strain can be caused by excessive force against the muscle or tendon. Stretching and overuse can lead to strains as well. Strains are also treated using the RICE method. Surgical repair may be required if a muscle or tendon has been torn.
Whiplash is another type of soft tissue injury. It is commonly sustained in car accidents. An individual with whiplash may have injuries to the muscles, ligaments, and tendons of the neck, resulting in pain and stiffness. Though resting the neck is commonly recommended, through the use of a specially designed neck collar, some medical professionals are recommending activity instead. These medical professionals assert that keeping the neck immobile may actually make the pain and stiffness worse. Warm compresses, good posture, and, in some cases, traction are recommended treatments for whiplash.
It is wise to consult a physician about soft tissue injuries. A physician can perform a thorough examination and rule out other conditions, such as fractures and dislocations. As such injuries are difficult to detect with the naked eye, x-rays may be recommended. Often, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is used to view and diagnose soft tissue injuries.