What is the best treatment for a soft tissue injury?
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.
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 drag that you feel, the "pulling" sensation, is what an adhesion is like. These adhesions attach to muscles, nerves and lymph decreasing their ability to work properly. You really know when you have an adhesion on a nerve; you get many abnormal sensations like numbness, tingling or pain.
- In addition to pain, people with fibromyalgia could also have:
- Cognitive and memory problems (sometimes called "fibro fog")
- Trouble sleeping.
- Morning stiffness.
- Irritable bowel syndrome.
- Painful menstrual periods.
- Numbness or tingling of hands and feet.
- Restless legs syndrome.
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.
- Bursitis and tendinitis are conditions that are also known as soft tissue rheumatic syndromes. This type of syndrome produces pain, swelling, or inflammation in the tissues and structures around a joint, such as the tendons, ligaments, bursae, and muscles.
- During the repair phase, new blood vessels grow in the injured area, maximizing transport within the tissue. Fibroblasts, cells that generate extracellular matrix and collagen fibers, begin producing granulation tissue, a fragile form of scar tissue, filling gaps left after the removal of damaged structures.
- 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.
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.
- Most minor-to-moderate injuries will heal within 2 to 4 weeks. More severe injuries, such as injuries that need a cast or splint, will need a longer time to heal, up to 6 to 8 weeks. The most serious injuries will need surgery to reduce the bone and allow the ligaments to heal. The healing process can be 6 to 8 months.
- 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.
- A contusion (bruise) is an injury to the soft tissue often produced by a blunt force, such as a kick, fall, or blow. The result will be pain, swelling, and discoloration because of bleeding into the tissue. More serious contusions may need to be examined by a doctor.
Updated: 2nd October 2019