Soft-Tissue Injuries

What is a Soft-Tissue Injury?

A soft-tissue injury is an injury of muscles, ligaments and tendons.  Ligaments are the tough, fibrous tissue that connect bones together in joints.  A tendon is fibrous tissue that connects bones to muscles.  A sprain is an injury that results from the stretching or tearing of a ligament.  A strain is an injury that results from the stretching or tearing of a muscle or tendon.  Contusions or bruises are also soft-tissue injuries.

Causes of Soft-Tissue Injuries

Soft-tissue injuries are commonly suffered in car crashes and slip and falls.  Whiplash is a neck injury caused by the forceful, rapid back-and-forth of the neck that can result from a rear-end collision.  This movement can overstretch and damage tendons in the neck.  Because of the resulting abrupt movement of the torso, other types of auto accidents also frequently cause soft-tissue injuries to the shoulders and back.

Symptoms of Soft-Tissue Injuries

The symptoms of sprains include pain, swelling, bruising, instability of the joint, and decreased range of motion.  Symptoms of strains include pain, inflammation, muscle spasm, muscle cramping, muscle weakness, and delayed bruising.  A spasm is the sudden, involuntary contraction of a muscle.  A muscle cramp accompanied by a sudden burst of pain is a common form of spasm.  Muscle twitching is another common form of muscle spasm.  The RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) method is recommended for the initial treatment of soft tissue injuries.  Consultation with a professional is recommended if the pain persists more than a day.  Professional treatment of soft-tissue injuries may include pain reliever and muscle relaxant medications, chiropractic care, physical therapy, massage therapy, and acupuncture. 

Recovering for Soft-Tissue Injuries

Recovering damages for soft-tissue injuries in a personal injury claim can be challenging.  Because their diagnosis and treatment is very dependent on the history of symptoms and pain given by the patient, it is easy for insurance companies and defense counsel to suggest the extent or duration of the symptoms are being exaggerated.  Delays in treatment, gaps in treatment, and prior similar complaints will all be argued as evidence of this.  This is why you should immediately seek treatment if you are injured in an auto accident or slip and fall, and then follow the recommendations of your medical professional concerning that treatment.