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Soft tissue injury is injury to any of the soft tissues of the body. Soft tissue injury may occur in the skin, as in a contusion, in the muscle, as in a strain, fascia (connective tissue beneath the skin) tendons and ligaments, as in a sprain. Soft tissue injuries often stem from overuse and repetitive stress injuries, which can lead to tendonitis, bursitis and other types of inflammation.
Sprains refer to damage or tearing of ligaments, strains are damage or tearing of muscles. Athletes are very prone to these injuries because they put repeated pressure on their joints. When excessive force is applied to a joint as in running and jumping, ligaments can become torn and a sprain results. Strains, often called pulled muscle, occur from over exertion or improper lifting techniques, as in weight lifters.
Soft tissue injury is painful and requires physiotherapy intervention. It is important to rest the part and give it time to heal. Athletes are often reluctant to do this and continue to train despite pain and injury. This is unwise, as the injury can be exacerbated and take a longer time to heal.
As with most injuries, you should see your doctor as soon as possible, who may prescribe pain medication to reduce pain and inflammation and promote healing. Your doctor will also perform an X-ray to determine if there is any fracture or dislocation. Severe sprains may require surgical correction. Physiotherapy will be recommended depending on the type of injury.
We will conduct an evaluation which would involve getting your medical history, prior level of activity, mechanism of injury and your goals for post recovery. The physical examination will include an assessment of range-of-motion, depending on the nature of the injury, strength and biomechanics.
Therapy will focus on pain management with the use of ice, ultrasound and manual therapy to relax muscles. The strained area may be taped or wrapped to reduce swelling and prevent bleeding in the tissues. When symptoms decrease, stretching and strengthening exercises may begin. We will guide you in performing these safely and may also give you a home exercise program so you can continue stretching after your treatment is over.
As an athlete it is important to pay attention to your body signals. Ceasing activity when you feel pain or overexertion is a wise decision as this may be a sign that something is wrong. We are trained to help you get the most out of your sport and to minimise the risks of injury.
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