WHAT ARE SOFT TISSUE INJURIES?
Soft tissue injuries are damage to the muscles, tendons, and ligaments. The forces involved in an auto collision are far greater than the casual observer appreciates. These collisions cause injury to what are commonly referred to as “Soft Tissues”. These include all parts of the body which are not the bones, spinal cord, nerve roots, or internal organs. Otherwise, all the “flesh” of your body is considered soft tissue.
Most commonly muscles, tendons, ligaments, and fascia are injured. These tissues have blood supply, and when injured they swell, can become red, irritated, and very painful. First aid for these types of injuries include immobilization, ice, light stretching, and rest. Soft tissues typically tear when injured. These can be small tears or partial tears, or in the case of ligaments, they can tear completely and require surgical repair.
In collisions, soft tissue injuries are hated by insurance companies. They view these injuries as minor and claim that all soft tissue injuries, especially if developed in a relatively low speed collision, heal within 4-6 weeks. Such is not the case. Tendons and ligaments can take months and up to a year to fully heal. And, in the special case of ligaments, they never heal – all ligament injuries are permanent. While this does not mean that you do not improve or return to normal life – but the underlying injury is never fully healed – there is a permanent impairment.
Type of Treatment
The treatment you receive should include an early acute phase with anti-inflammatory protocols including ice, rest, electrical muscle stimulation, and stretching. This should be gradually followed by range of motion exercises, massage, and therapeutic exercise. At some point, all of these need to be included. Some of these can be done at home, some need to be done by a qualified doctor or therapist.
It should be received immediately. There should be no delay. The same day or the next day, icing and anti-inflammatory protocols should be instituted.
These injuries heal anywhere from weeks to a year in length. So, don’t stop too soon. The #1 mistake made in treatment is not following the recommendations of your doctor. He or she has seen hundreds of injuries just like this and has studied for years to be able to help you recover as much as possible – so just make sure you follow their advice.
If this injury has occurred following an auto collision, you need to be properly evaluated for long-term consequences and permanent injury. This will help you to receive proper treatment and compensation for future medical needs. These permanent changes which can occur in soft tissue injuries are not to be taken lightly. Chronic pain is a terrible outcome you want to attempt to avoid with your best efforts.
The advice and information contained in this article are for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace a physician’s advice. Please always consult your physician for your medical needs.