Soft tissue injuries cover many types of injuries that affect your musculoskeletal system. When you suffer a soft tissue injury, you might experience pain, swelling, and limits on your movement.
Worse yet, soft tissue injuries could cause long-term or even permanent disabilities. Soft tissue often heals slowly, and you might not regain the level of functioning that you had before your accident, even after surgery.
What Is the Structure of Your Musculoskeletal System?
Your musculoskeletal system provides structure, movement, and strength to your body. This system also protects your vital organs, such as your brain, heart, and lungs.
Your musculoskeletal system includes bones and soft tissues. The bones include calcified tissues. Bones have a rigid structure that provides the scaffold for your soft tissues.
The soft tissues of your musculoskeletal system include many structures, such as:
Muscles and Tendons
Muscles move your body and attach to the bones through tendons. By using the bones for leverage, your muscles can move everything from your fingers to your toes. Muscles have long fibers that contract and relax. Nerves control the contraction and relaxation of muscles.
Ligaments connect bones. These tough, elastic bands hold the bones together at joints. For example, you have four major ligaments in each knee to hold your leg bones together.
Ligaments also guide the movement of your joints. The ligaments flex or bend in certain ways to prevent your body from bending in certain directions that could damage the joint. Thus, the ligaments in your knees prevent your knees from bending backward and limit the amount of side-to-side movement as well.
Cartilage lines all of your major joints. Cartilage is made from collagen. This tough, spongy, smooth material cushions the joints so that the bones do not chip away as you run, jump, or otherwise stress them. They also provide a smooth surface so the joints can pivot, turn, or slide without wearing out.
What Can Cause a Soft Tissue Injury?
Soft tissue injuries can result from diseases or accidents. An accident can cause soft tissue injuries through several types of trauma, including:
Blunt force injuries happen when your body collides with an object without breaking the skin. Workplace accidents often cause blunt trauma if something falls on you. You can also suffer blunt trauma when you fall from an elevation or suffer a slip and fall accident.
Penetrating trauma happens when an object pierces your skin and soft tissue, leaving an open wound that can bleed and become infected. You can suffer penetrating trauma in car accidents or other traffic accidents from shattered glass and bent metal.
Hyperextension happens when your body bends or stretches abnormally. Slip and fall accidents or traffic accidents can cause hyperextension.
Overuse happens when tiny tears develop on your soft tissues due to repetitive stress. These tears normally heal with rest. But if you repeat the motions without taking time to heal, the tears can propagate into soft tissue injuries. These injuries usually happen to people with jobs that involve repetitive motions like lifting, carrying, and walking.
What Types of Soft Tissue Injuries Can Occur?
Soft tissue injuries take many forms depending on the structures that get damaged.
Strains and Sprains
Strains happen when muscles or tendons get stretched or torn.
When these tissues get damaged, you can experience symptoms such as:
- Muscle spasms
- Muscle stiffness
Sprains happen when you tear or stretch ligaments.
Sprains cause symptoms that seem similar to strains:
- Limited range of motion
- Joint instability
- Popping sensation during the accident
Mild strains and sprains will heal without medical treatment in about four weeks. Your doctor might prescribe rest and anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce swelling and promote healing.
Severe strains or sprains might require surgery. After surgery, the doctor might immobilize your injury and prescribe physical therapy.
The cartilage inside your joints can get torn during an accident.
Symptoms of torn joint cartilage include:
- Joint pain
- Joint stiffness and a limited range of motion
- Clicking or hitching in the joint when you move it
Torn cartilage will often heal on its own but might require a long time. In some situations, doctors will operate to remove loose or floating cartilage inside the joint to prevent the joint from getting stuck.
Tendinitis results from overuse. In tendonitis, the tendons or ligaments get irritated and inflamed.
Symptoms of tendinitis include:
- Pain, particularly when moving
- Radiating pain
Tendinitis is a painful and potentially disabling injury. Swollen tendons can also press on nerves, causing pain to radiate into other body areas. Fortunately, tendinitis heals with rest and almost never requires surgery.
Lacerations result from penetrating trauma. They damage the soft tissue, resulting in torn or severed muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Lacerations can also cause bleeding and infection.
When your skin gets breached, you lose your protection against microorganisms. Bacteria and viruses can enter your body and multiply. As they multiply, they damage the tissue leading to tissue death.
In response, your body causes fever and swelling. In extreme cases, you could experience sepsis, a condition that can lead to death.
Bruises happen when blood vessels rupture under the skin inside your muscles.
The bleeding causes:
Bruises usually heal in a few days to a few weeks, depending on the depth of the injury.
How Can You Recover Compensation for Soft Tissue Injuries?
Florida law requires most employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance. If you suffer a soft tissue injury in a job-related accident, you can usually claim medical and disability benefits.
Florida’s no-fault auto insurance system limits when you can seek compensation for soft tissue injuries arising from a car accident. As a result, you might need to seek compensation from your no-fault PIP insurer first. If your no-fault benefits fail to cover your medical expenses or you suffer a significant permanent injury, you can file a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver.A severe soft tissue injury can change your life forever. You might suffer severe disabilities due to pain and limitations in your mobility. To discuss the compensation you can seek for the effects of your soft tissue injury, contact our law firm Brannon & Brannon Personal Injury Attorneys, we offer a free consultation and are available 24/7 at (850) 863-5297.