Soft tissue injuries (STI's) vary in type and severity and by definition is an injury to a 'soft' structure such as muscle, ligament (join bone to bone), tendons (join muscle to bone), skin, joint capsule, fat, myofascia and other connective tissue. An injury to muscles or tendons such as twisted ankle or sprained wrist leads to microtrauma, bleeding and swelling around the damaged tissue which causes pain. This pain encourages the body to 'rest' the affected area and whilst initially this is useful to aid healing, the consequence of this after a few days is muscle weakness and reduced movement from disuse. Usually this is easily restored when the pain and swelling settles but sometimes it helps to have Physiotherapy, especially if you are keen to return to sport, as the evidence is that we can speed up the healing process and achieve a safer and speedy return to activity.
The early stage of a soft tissue injury is known as the acute phase of injury and is the first 48 – 72 hours post injury
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are regularly used to accelerate the return of injured athletes suffering with acute soft tissue injuries to competition. Evidence demonstrates that while anti-inflammatory medication may speed recovery after acute soft tissue injuries, long-term healing may be compromised
is a type of bleed (heamatoma) of tissue in which capillaries are damaged, causing bleeding into the surrounding tissues.
is damage to one or more ligaments in a joint, often caused by trauma or the joint being taken beyond its functional range of motion.
is an injury to a muscle in which the fibres tear as a result of overstretching. A strain is also known as a pulled muscle or torn muscle.
For the initial 48-72 hours after a STI you should avoid HARM. This means that you should avoid:
PRICE is a mnemonic for the 5 elements used to treat soft tissue injuries.
After the initial 48 hour period gradually start to return to activity as pain allows. This will start to strengthen, return flexibility and resume normal balance (proprioception)
Physiotherapy treatments can speed up the rate of healing, this can depend upon the levels of soft tissue damage and ease the pain using treatments such as taping, acupuncture, ultrasound, microcurrent therapy, TENS, soft tissue and joint mobilisations. Advice on returning to normal activity is crucial in making an effective and efficient return to normal function
Most soft tissue injuries can take a few weeks to heal, this is dependent upon the severity of the sprain or strain as well as the general health of the patient.
Good habits can prevent soft tissue injuries which includes warming up, stretching and cooling down, gradually increasing in intensity and duration of training, wearing appropriate protective equipment such as shin pads, gum shields, appropriate footwear. Keeping well hydrated during, before and after periods of exertion.
Get in touch with Abbey Physiotherapy to book you in for our initial assessment of your conditions.
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