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Soft tissue injury is damage to four different types of tissue: muscles, ligaments, tendons or nerves.

Common causes

Soft tissue injury is caused by direct or indirect trauma. Direct trauma may happen in connection with sports or other accidents, being struck by an object or falling. Indirect trauma commonly stems from overuse of the tissue. For instance, assembly line or factory workers often suffer from this type because of the many repetitive movements they have to do many times a day.

Types of soft issue injury

Soft tissue injuries include ligament sprains (e.g. sprained ankle), tendon strains, repetitive stress injury and carpal tunnel syndrome.

Treatment

Immediately after the event causing the injury, you should use ice packs, rest, bandaging and elevation. You should see your doctor if you can’t move normally or if the pain and swelling are still present after a couple of days.

Treatment options might include:

  • Physiotherapy exercises to promote healing, strength and flexibility
  • Electrotherapy
  • Manual techniques such as mobilization and massage

In general, the injury will heal in phases: The first phase typically lasts 72 hours and is marked by swelling, redness, warmth and pain. The second phase is the repair phase and lasts 48 hours to six weeks. During this time, the body will create scar tissue (collagen), and you may experience pain and/or discomfort. The third is most important phase and is called the remodeling phase because the collagen is remodeled to replicate the damaged tissue. This phase will last three weeks to one year or more. Severe injuries where the tissue has completely ruptured require surgery to sew the torn pieces back together.

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