Soft Tissue Injury Care

Soft Tissue Injury Care

Article by John Miller

Soft Tissue Injuries

What is a Soft Tissue Injury?

By definition, a soft tissue injury is any injury that is within your soft tissues, such as muscle, ligaments, tendons and fascia. In other words, non-bone related injuries.

Soft tissue injuries include:

Seek Professional Advice

Obviously, the best care is to seek prompt medical attention for an accurate diagnosis and its specific care. However, in the interim, you can follow the following general guidelines.

In the first three days after injury, use the R.I.C.E. method:

  • Rest (to avoid pain and further damage)
  • Ice (20 to 30 minutes each two to three hours)
  • Compression (to support the injury and minimise swelling)
  • Elevation (above your heart to assist swelling reduction)

You will help your chances of a full recovery if you avoid the H.A.R.M. factors in the first 48 to 72 hours.

What are the HARM Factors?

Heat: Increases swelling and bleeding. Avoid heat packs, a hot bath and saunas.

Alcohol: Increases swelling and bleeding. Plus, it can delay healing.

Running or Exercise: Aggravates the injury which increases pain, swelling and bleeding. Always check with a health professional before resume sport or exercise.

Massage: Increases swelling and bleeding. Direct massage to the injured area may aggravate the damaged tissues and is normally best avoided for the first 48 to 72 hours. Indirect massage (away from the injury site) may be helpful. Please consult your health practitioner for the best advice for your injury.

What is Your Subsequent Treatment?

While the following advice is generic and may vary depending on your injury diagnosis, several treatment goals during the subacute phase, these include:

Pain Relief

Is it important to ease and safely manage your pain? While natural products such as ice and over-the-counter medications may assist you, the advice of a health professional is the safest option for you to control your pain. In some cases, using an electronic device such as a TENS machine may also assist your early pain relief.

Regain Full Movement

Once the initial trauma has settled, a primary aim of treatment is to regain your full joint, ligament and muscle range of motion. Your physiotherapist will identify any abnormalities, provide hands-on treatment, and prescribe relevant exercises to regain normal movement.

Muscle Strengthening

It is crucial to support the muscles surrounding your injury via strengthening exercises. This muscle control is important to provide support during the early recovery phase, to prevent re-injury and return you to everyday function and sport. Your physiotherapist will prescribe and progress injury-specific exercises individualised to your needs.

Proprioceptive Retraining

An injury causes nerve pathway damage that affects your ability to control your joint position. The technical name for this is proprioception. Proprioception exercises have been shown in numerous research studies to prevent future injuries. Your physiotherapist is highly skilled in proprioceptive retraining. They will prescribe specific functional and sport-related proprioceptive exercises.

Heat or Ice

Heat can ease muscle soreness, increase soft tissue extensibility, increase circulation. Ice has also been useful even beyond 72-hours post-injury to reduce swelling due to excessive use and to slow your nerve conduction rate to assist pain control. If you would like advice regarding what is most suitable for you, please consult your physiotherapist.

Common Soft Tissue Injury Treatments

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Neck & Back Muscle Injuries

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Upper Limb Muscle Injuries

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