Is soft tissue damage painful?
When soft tissue is damaged, there is usually immediate pain along with immediate or delayed swelling (excessive swelling can slow the healing process – see treatment below). Stiffness is also very common as a result of the trauma and swelling. Bruising may also develop after 24-48 hours.
Many soft-tissue injuries — for example, a serious strain or tendonitis — require surgical repair. Moreover, contusions that persist can cause permanent damage to soft tissues. In the case of contusions (internal bruising), blood pooling around an injury can sometimes lead to permanent damage to soft tissues.
- Healing is a continuum. At six weeks post-soft tissue injury your healing tissue is reasonably mature but as you stretch, strength and stress your new scar tissue it often finds that it is not strong enough to cope with your increasing physical demand.
- The layers may of fascia may stick together or fascia may stick to muscles or skin. Following an injury, fascia may also become attached to scar tissue as it forms. Because these adhesions are frequently painful to stretch, they tend to persist, limiting free movement and reinforcing dysfunctional muscle patterns.
- These 18 points (9 pairs) tend to be painful when pressed, and may spread pain to other body parts. American College of Rheumatology guidelines suggest that people with fibromyalgia have pain in at least 11 of these tender points when a doctor applies a certain amount of pressure.
The immediate treatment of any soft tissue injury consists of the RICER protocol – rest, ice, compression, elevation and referral. RICE protocol should be followed for 48–72 hours. The aim is to reduce the bleeding and damage within the joint.
- Soft tissue therapy is the manipulation of the soft tissues of the body i.e. muscles, connective tissue/fascia, tendons, ligaments and joints. Soft tissue therapy helps alleviate the soft tissue discomfort associated with everyday and occupational stresses, muscular over-use and many chronic pain conditions.
- Protect the strained muscle from further injury.
- Rest the strained muscle.
- Ice the muscle area (20 minutes every hour while awake).
- Compression can be gently applied with an Ace or other elastic bandage, which can both provide support and decrease swelling.
- Elevate the injured area to decrease swelling.
- When soft tissue is damaged, there is usually immediate pain along with immediate or delayed swelling (excessive swelling can slow the healing process – see treatment below). Stiffness is also very common as a result of the trauma and swelling. Bruising may also develop after 24-48 hours.
How long will it take to recover from a soft tissue injury? The recovery time from grade 1 soft tissue injuries in one to two weeks and three to four weeks for a grade 2. Grade three soft tissue injuries require immediate assessment and treatment, with much longer recovery times.
- Treatment of a ligament injury varies depending on it's location and severity. Grade I sprains usually heal within a few weeks. Maximal ligament strength will occur after six weeks when the collagen fibres have matured.
- Your muscles however, do not actually heal with muscle tissue, but with “foreign” substances including collagen. The resulting scar tissue is weaker, less elastic, and highly prone to re-injury.
- The repaired tendon will usually be back to full strength after about 12 weeks, but it can take up to six months to regain the full range of movement. In some cases, it may never be possible to move the affected finger or thumb as much as before it was damaged.
Updated: 2nd October 2019