Sprains, Strains and Other Soft-Tissue Injuries

Sprains, Strains and Other Soft Tissue Injurie

The most common soft tissues injured are muscles, tendons, and ligaments. These injuries often occur during sports and exercise activities, but sometimes simple everyday activities can cause an injury. Sprains, strains, and contusions, as well as tendinitis and bursitis, are common soft-tissue injuries. Even with appropriate treatment, these injuries may require a prolonged amount of time to heal. Cause Soft-tissue injuries fall into two basic categories: acute injuries and overuse injuries. Acute injuries are caused by a sudden trauma, such as a fall, twist, or blow to the body. Examples of an acute injury include sprains, strains, and contusions.

Overuse injuries occur gradually over time, when an athletic or other activity is repeated so often, areas of the body do not have enough time to heal between occurrences. Tendinitis and bursitis are common soft-tissue overuse injuries.

Common Acute Soft-Tissue Injuries Acute soft-tissue injuries vary in type and severity. When an acute injury occurs, initial treatment with the RICE protocol is usually very effective. RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.

Sprains A sprain is a stretch and/or tear of a ligament, a strong band of connective tissue that connect the end of one bone with another. Ligaments stabilize and support the body’s joints. For example, ligaments in the knee connect the thighbone with the shinbone, enabling people to walk and run. The areas of your body that are most vulnerable to sprains are your ankles, knees, and wrists. A sprained ankle can occur when your foot turns inward, placing extreme tension on the ligaments of outer ankle. A sprained knee can be the result of a sudden twist, and a wrist sprain can occur when falling on an outstretched hand. A twisting force to the lower leg or foot is a common cause of ankle sprains. Sprains are classified by severity:

  • Grade 1 sprain (mild): Slight stretching and some damage to the fibers (fibrils) of the ligament.
  • Grade 2 sprain (moderate): Partial tearing of the ligament. There is abnormal looseness (laxity) in the joint when it is moved in certain ways.
  • Grade 3 sprain (severe): Complete tear of the ligament. This causes significant instability and makes the joint nonfunctional.

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While the intensity varies, pain, bruising, swelling, and inflammation are common to all three categories of sprains. Treatment for mild sprains includes RICE and sometimes physical therapy exercises. Moderate sprains often require a period of bracing. The most severe sprains may require surgery to repair torn ligaments. Strains A strain is an injury to a muscle and/or tendons. Tendons are fibrous cords of tissue that attach muscles to the bone. Strains often occur in your foot, leg (typically the hamstring) or back. A severe hamstring injury where the tendon has been torn from the bone. Similar to sprains, a strain may be a simple stretch in your muscle or tendon, or it may be a partial or complete tear in the muscle-and-tendon combination. Typical symptoms of a strain include pain, muscle spasm, muscle weakness, swelling, inflammation, and cramping. Soccer, football, hockey, boxing, wrestling and other contact sports put athletes at risk for strains, as do sports that feature quick starts, such as hurdling, long jump, and running races. Gymnastics, tennis, rowing, golf and other sports that require extensive gripping, have a high incidence of hand sprains. Elbow strains frequently occur in racquet, throwing, and contact sports. The recommended treatment for a strain is the same as for a sprain: rest, ice, compression and elevation.

This should be followed by simple exercises to relieve pain and restore mobility. Surgery may be required for a more serious tear. Contusions (Bruises) A contusion is a bruise caused by a direct blow or repeated blows, crushing underlying muscle fibers and connective tissue without breaking the skin. A contusion can result from falling or jamming the body against a hard surface. The discoloration of the skin is caused by blood pooling around the injury. Most contusions are mild and respond well with the RICE protocol. If symptoms persist, medical care should be sought to prevent permanent damage to the soft tissues. Prevention Injuries often occur when people suddenly increase the duration, intensity, or frequency of their activities. Many soft-tissue injuries can be prevented through proper conditioning, training, and equipment. Other prevention tips include:

  1. • Use proper equipment.
  2. • Balanced fitness. .
  3. • Warm up.
  4. • Cool down.
  5. • Rest.

By – HOD – Dr Mohammed Aslam
Department – Physiotherapy
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