Soft tissue injuries are one of the most common types of injuries that occur due to sport and physical activity – the tissues prone to injury are muscles, tendons and ligaments which connect and support joints.
The two types of soft tissue damage and they can be characterised into acute or over use.
Acute soft tissue injuries are caused by sudden trauma such as twist, fall or a direct impact causing injuries such as sprains or strains.
Whereas overuse injuries occur gradually over time due to repetitive motion within sport or the work place and cause injuries such as tendonitis or bursitis.
Strains, sprains, tendonitis, tears and ruptures are common in people of all ages and any level of activity – some are more serious than others.
The severity of soft tissue injuries can be graded by the following:
Grade 1 – soft tissue damage:
- Mild tenderness, mild swelling
Grade 2 – soft tissue damage:
- Partial tear of fibers
- Moderate pain and swelling
- Unable to apply load without pain
Grade 3 – soft tissue damage:
- Complete rupture of soft tissue
- Significate pain and swelling
- Inability to use injured structure
Tendinitis, grade 1 & 2 strains and sprains are examples of soft tissue injuries which are less serious than others, and can be treated with physical therapy and pain relief medication.
Other acute injuries (rotator cuff tears, Achilles tendon rupture, ACL tears) can cause severe pain and dysfunction and surgical intervention is required for the best possible outcome. Those who have severe acute injuries are advised to have surgery sooner rather than later. If these types of injuries are left, it can lead to instability of the joint and become re-injured in the future.
So, can soft tissue injuries be permanent?
Soft tissue injuries can cause permanent changes and never return to their pre-injured state, however with effective rehabilitation/physical therapy you can improve the strength and mobility of the affected area to improve the function to the highest potential.