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)

Your chances of a full recovery will be helped 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, there are 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, the use of an electronic device such as a TENS machine may also assist your early pain relief.

Regain Full Movement

A primary aim of treatment, once the initial trauma has settled, is to regain your full joint, ligament and muscle range of motion. Your physiotherapist will identify any abnormalities and provide hands-on treatment and prescribe the 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 found to be 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 to you, please consult your physiotherapist.

Common Soft Tissue Injury Treatments

Muscle Pain Injuries

Myalgia, or muscle pain, can have many sources. Here are some of the more common sources of your muscle pain. Please click the links for more information.

Muscle Strains By Region

Neck & Back:



Haematoma-related Myalgia

Fatigue-related Myalgia

Systemic Causes of Myalgia

More Information: Myalgia

Muscle Strain Treatment

Muscle strain treatment will vary depending upon an accurate diagnosis from your health professional. The severity of your muscle strain, and what function or loads your injured muscle will need to cope with, will impact the length of your healing and rehabilitation process. Until you’ve been accurately diagnosed with a muscle strain, use the following guidelines:
  • Ice and a compression bandage.
  • Elevate the injured region if it is swollen.
  • If it’s painful to walk you should be using crutches.
  • Cease or reduce your exercise or activity level to where you feel no pain.
Muscle strain can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks to rehabilitate successfully. Please seek the advice of your physiotherapist, doctor or your health care practitioner who specialises in muscle injuries eg massage therapist, to guide your treatment.

Common Treatments for Muscle Strain

The following options are available to your physiotherapist to assist the rehabilitation of your muscle strain. Please seek their professional advice prior to self-managing your injury to avoid aggravating your muscle strain. These are general guidelines only and should not be treated as individual treatment advice.

Acute Muscle Strain Treatment

Subacute Muscle Strain Treatment

Later Stage Muscle Strain Treatment Options

Other Factors to Consider

General Information


Massage Techniques