Soft Tissue Injury

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Soft Tissue Injury

Soft Tissue Injury

Soft tissue is a confusing term. Some insurance claims adjusters even look skeptically at soft tissue injuries because they believe accident victims can inflate their claims by inventing soft tissue injuries.

But soft tissue injuries are real. They range from bruises to torn cartilage. They can require months of rest and physical therapy. They may even leave you with permanent disabilities that interfere with your ability to earn a living.

Below you will learn about soft tissue injuries, how they happen, and the compensation you can seek for their effects.

What is the Structure of Your Musculoskeletal System?

What is the Structure of Your Musculoskeletal System?

Your musculoskeletal system includes two types of tissue. Your bones give your body structure. They also give your muscles leverage to move your body.

Your soft tissue includes all of the non-calcified tissues of your musculoskeletal system. In other words, soft tissue includes everything in your musculoskeletal system not made of bone.

This includes:

Ligaments

Ligaments connect bones. They give your skeleton structure by holding your bones together at your joints. They also give you the flexibility to bend and twist your joints.

Muscles and Tendons

Your muscles give your body strength and movement. The tendons anchor your muscles to your skeleton. Your muscles use the bones for leverage in moving your body.

Cartilage

Cartilage lines your joints. The cartilage cushions the joints against impacts. It also provides a smooth interface between the bones of the joints. Without cartilage, your bones would grind against each other and wear down.

Fascia

Your muscles are surrounded by a membrane called the fascia. This membrane protects your muscles from rubbing against other tissues. It also holds the muscle fibers together.

How Does a Soft Tissue Injury Happen?

Soft tissue injuries usually fall into four categories:

Penetrating Injuries

When an object pierces your skin, you have suffered a penetrating injury. Penetrating injuries can tear your flesh and pose a severe risk of infection. Other tissues running through your muscles, such as nerves and blood vessels, could get torn too. This could lead to nerve damage and bleeding.

Your soft tissues require oxygen to survive. When you suffer a penetrating injury that disrupts the blood circulation, your soft tissue can die, leading to gangrene and risking amputation.

Blunt Force Injuries

Blunt force injuries happen when something hits you without penetrating your skin. You have a lower risk of infection since the injury did not leave an open wound. But the injury could still bruise and tear your soft tissue.

Hyperextension Injuries

Hyperextension happens when soft tissue gets stretched beyond its normal capacity. Hyperextension injuries can stretch or tear cartilage, muscles, tendons, and ligaments.

Overuse Injuries

When you use your soft tissues, tiny cracks form. When you rest, your body repairs the cracks and builds the soft tissues back stronger. This is how exercise builds muscle.

But if you cannot rest between repetitive motions, you develop overuse injuries. Instead of healing, repeated stress causes the cracks to propagate. Over time they can develop into tears in the soft tissue.

These injuries often develop in workers who perform repetitive motions during their job like walking, bending, lifting, and carrying. These work-related injuries fall under workers’ compensation even though they resulted from overuse and not an accident.

What Are Some Soft Tissue Injury Examples?

Soft tissue injuries can take many forms depending on the tissue damaged and the type of forces involved. Some soft tissue injury examples include:

Bruises

Bruises happen when a force, typically a blunt force, ruptures blood vessels under the skin. Internal bleeding causes discoloration, swelling, and pain. Bruises usually heal on their own in about a week.

Strains and Sprains

Strains and sprains usually happen due to hyperextension. For example, your back and neck get hyperextended during a car accident. As you crash into another vehicle, your head moves forward rapidly. When the seat belt restrains your chest, the weight of your head hyperextends your neck and back.

Strains and sprains often get confused or used interchangeably. But they refer to distinct injuries with overlapping but distinguishable symptoms.

Strains happen when tendons or muscles get stretched or torn by trauma.

Symptoms of a strain often include:

  • Pain
  • Inflammation
  • Limited range of motion
  • Weakness
  • Muscle spasms

Sprains happen when ligaments get stretched or torn. Since ligaments hold bones together, symptoms of sprains appear in or near joints.

Some symptoms include:

  • Pain
  • Inflammation
  • Joint stiffness
  • Joint instability
  • Bruises
  • Popping sound or sensation at the time of injury

Strains and sprains heal on their own after four to six weeks. Your doctor may prescribe rest, icing the injury, and anti-inflammatory drugs. Doctors operate on only the most serious strains and sprains.

Torn Cartilage

Trauma can tear cartilage. Torn cartilage can produce many symptoms, such as:

  • Pain
  • Stiff joints
  • A joint that catches or clicks
  • Grinding joints

Contrary to popular belief, cartilage can regrow. But it takes a long time. Doctors often will not operate to treat a cartilage injury unless cartilage has jammed the accident victim’s joint. Instead, they will prescribe rest and anti-inflammatory drugs.

What Are Some Soft Tissue Injury Complications?

Complications can often affect a body region affected by a soft tissue injury. Some examples of soft tissue injury complications include:

Infection

Infections happen when bacteria enter your body through an open wound. Infections can cause you to become very sick. Doctors treat infections with antibiotics.

Compartment Syndrome

Compartment syndrome happens when your soft tissue gets injured and swells so much that it pinches the nerves and blood vessels. The area below the swelling has reduced blood circulation. The oxygen-deprived cells die.

What Compensation Can You Recover for Soft Tissue Injuries?

You can seek injury compensation when you suffer a soft tissue injury due to someone else’s negligence. This compensation can cover your economic and non-economic losses.

Economic losses include your medical bills and lost income. Non-economic losses include your pain, suffering, and inability to participate in activities.

Soft tissue injuries range in severity and duration. A bruise can heal in less than a week, while torn cartilage may take years to heal and may continue to cause problems afterward.

To learn more about the compensation you can seek for your soft tissue injuries, contact the Law Offices of Jay S. Knispel Personal Injury Lawyers for a free consultation.

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