What Are Soft Tissue Injuries?
The term ‘soft tissues’ is used to refer to muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Sometimes, certain movements can lead to an injury in these soft tissues; this is referred to as soft tissue injuries. These injuries are often accompanied by pain and swelling as well as a limitation in the motion of the affected part.
Today, we will take a look at some common types of soft tissue injuries and explore available treatment options.
The RICE method for treating soft tissue damage
RICE stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. This method is commonly adopted to treat milder forms of injury to the soft tissues.
Rest: You need to avoid putting any kind of pressure on the affected body part until it heals completely. However, rest does not mean that you avoid movements completely. You need to keep practising physiotherapy exercises.
Ice: An ice pack can help with the pain and swelling. Keep ice packs handy if you have a soft tissue injury.
Compression: Compression involves covering the affected area with a bandage to wrap it up. Avoid tying the bandage too tight; you may want to ask a doctor to wrap it for you.
Elevation: When lying down, elevate the affected limb on a pillow. Or if you are sitting, rest it on a chair next to you.
Never self-diagnose any kind of injury that causes you a lot of pain. Always seek a professional medical opinion. If the RICE method does not work, your doctor may recommend a surgery or medication.
A sprain refers to a tear in your ligament due to a sudden movement that causes the area to twist. The treatment for a sprain depends on the severity of the injury. A mild sprain can be treated through the RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) techniques. A severe sprain usually needs surgery. Patients might have to go through physical therapy as well.
Your body has small, fluid-filled sacs known bursae. The bursae help in minimising friction during movement. Bursitis is a condition in which the bursae get inflamed. Bursitis generally occurs in the elbow, knee, foot, and hip. The RICE technique is also used for treating bursitis, though some patients may also need anti-inflammatory medicines and physical therapy. In more serious cases, the bursa may need to get drained out or even removed.
Tendonitis is a condition marked by inflammation of the tendons. Tendonitis commonly occurs due excessive use of the body part through repetitive motions. It commonly affects the wrists, elbows, and knees. Tendonitis is also treated through the RICE method. Some patients may also be given steroid injections and advised to undergo physical therapy.
Overuse or sharp force applied on a muscle or tendon can lead to a strain. Strains are common soft tissue injuries experienced by athletes. The RICE method can help treat mild strains whereas more severe tears require surgery.
Contusions are injuries that result from impact from a blunt object on the surface of the skin. These bruises can also be treated through the RICE method; however, more serious contusions should be shown to a doctor.
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Tips to prevent soft tissue injuries
Avoiding soft tissue injuries is difficult but not impossible. Here are a few tips that can lower your risk of facing soft tissue damage:
- Ensure you warm up before you exercise or play sports
- Wear proper gear while playing sports or exercising
- Try out new forms of exercise carefully or under professional supervision
- Stay hydrated
- Take breaks and make sure to keep days of rest between workouts
If you play sports, you may want to speak with your doctor or physiotherapist about how you can protect yourself from injuries. If you have already faced any kind of soft tissue injury treatment in the past, you may want to take extra precaution to avoid damaging the same areas again.
Soft tissue damage can be quite painful and adequate rest is needed for you to be able to heal completely. Make sure you follow your doctor’s advice, take your medicines on time, and practice the physiotherapy exercises you have been advised. Avoid putting pressure on the affected areas until they have healed completely. With proper rest and care, you will be able to move with comfort once again.