You have potentially suffered a soft tissue injury without calling it one. Soft tissues include your muscles, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage. If you have sprained an ankle or pulled a muscle, you have had a soft tissue injury.
Mild soft tissue injuries may cause pain and inconvenience you. Severe injuries can require expensive reconstructive surgery and permanently limit your functions.
What Are the Soft Tissues of Your Musculoskeletal System?
Your musculoskeletal system includes bones and soft tissues. Bones include all the ossified tissue that contains minerals like calcium and phosphorus. These minerals give your bones a rigid structure that helps them support your body.
Soft tissues include everything else that gives your body structure, strength, and movement. Soft tissues do not include structures that belong to other body systems. For example, soft tissues do not include blood vessels of the circulatory system or nerves of the nervous system. The term “soft tissue” also does not include organs.
Instead, soft tissues include:
Ligaments are tough bands of tissue that hold bones together at the joints. For example, you have four ligaments in your knee that hold your femur to your tibia and fibula.
Ligaments guide the movement of your joints and prevent them from bending the wrong way. Their elasticity also helps flex your joints after you extend them.
Muscles have fibers that contract and relax. Muscles move your body and give it strength.
Tendons attach muscles to your skeleton. These tissues are usually tough and fibrous.
Fascia wrap around the muscles to hold them together and protect them as they rub against bones and other muscles.
Cartilage lines your joints and facilitates movement by providing a tough, smooth surface for the bones to move against each other. Without cartilage, your bones would grind whenever your joints move.
How Does a Soft Tissue Injury Happen?
Soft tissues can get injured in an accident. Three primary types of trauma produce soft tissue injuries:
Hyperextension happens when your soft tissues get pulled out of their regular range. The pulling forces cause the soft tissues to stretch or even tear apart.
Hyperextension can occur in car accidents when your body gets whipped around. Your body bends and twists under the force of the collision, and your head pulls your neck and back, stretching your spine. All of these forces can damage the soft tissues in your back, neck, chest, and shoulders.
When you get hit by an object without any skin breaking, you suffer blunt trauma. Blunt trauma can damage or destroy your soft tissue cells by causing them to tear and rupture.
Blunt trauma happens in any impact. In a slip and fall accident, you can suffer blunt soft tissue trauma when your hip and back hit the ground.
An object causes penetrating trauma when it slices or tears soft tissue and leaves an open wound. The trauma destroys the soft tissue and causes bleeding. Severe bleeding can produce problems beyond your soft tissue injuries, such as organ damage, shock, and death.
An open wound from penetrating trauma can also become infected. When microorganisms get into your body, they multiply. They will make you sick as they compete with your body for resources. Your body runs a fever to try to burn the microorganisms out. As a result, you can get very sick.
Penetrating trauma can happen in motorcycle accidents when you fall onto something sharp like broken glass or twisted metal. The object pierces your skin and penetrates the soft tissue underneath.
What Are Some Examples of Soft Tissue Injuries?
Soft tissue injury types vary depending on the body part that gets injured. Examples of soft tissue injuries include:
A blunt force injury produces a bruise when it breaks blood vessels under the skin. You can usually identify a bruise by discoloration on the skin. Bruises also cause pain and swelling. Bruises are minor injuries that usually heal within a week or so.
Strains and Sprains
A hyperextension injury to your muscles and tendons can cause a strain.
Symptoms of muscle or tendon strain include:
- Muscle pain and swelling
When you hyperextend your ligaments, you suffer a sprain.
A sprain can produce symptoms such as:
- Limited range of motion
- Joint pain and instability
- Popping sound at the time of injury
You will usually recover from a mild sprain or strain with rest and anti-inflammatory medication. But in a severe sprain or strain, you suffer a full-thickness tear of your soft tissues. Doctors may need to operate to repair the tear. And even after surgery, you may not recover your full strength and range of motion.
The cartilage that lines your joints can get torn. These injuries can result from hyperextension, blunt force, or penetrating trauma.
When the cartilage tears, pieces can break off and float freely in your joint. The locations in your joint that get stripped will grind without the protection provided by the cartilage.
Symptoms of torn cartilage include:
- Joint pain
- Grinding or clicking sound when you move
- Hitching or limited range of motion in your joint
Treatment for torn cartilage may include surgery on your joint to remove any loose cartilage. You will probably need a few weeks to a few months to heal from your injury. Even after you heal, you may still have pain and swelling in the joint. You may also lack the flexibility and strength you had before your injury.
How Can You Get Compensation for a Soft Tissue Injury?
Missouri law entitles you to fair compensation for any injuries caused by someone else’s negligence. To prove negligence, you must show that you were injured when the other person failed to exercise reasonable care. For example, you can pursue compensation when a distracted driver hits your bicycle and tears the cartilage in your knee.Soft tissue injuries can cause pain and disability. To discuss the compensation you can seek for your soft tissue injury, contact Schultz & Myers Personal Injury Lawyers for a free consultation.