After a fall or car accident, you might feel stiff. You might have swelling and redness and even experience debilitating pain. These are all signs of a soft tissue injury.
Unfortunately, some insurance companies treat these serious health problems as imaginary. But soft tissue damage can cause temporary or even permanent disabilities, preventing you from working or meeting your daily needs.
If you were injured in an accident, it is essential to understand more about soft tissue injuries and how you can recover compensation for them.
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What Are Soft Tissues?
Your musculoskeletal system provides the structure, strength, and movement of your body. This system includes two types of tissues:
Bones have a rigid structure. This results from a tiny matrix built from minerals like calcium and phosphorus. Together, the bones make up your skeleton.
The soft tissues perform many functions, including holding your skeleton together and moving your body.
Some examples of soft tissues include:
- Ligaments connect bones at the joints
- Muscles contract and relax to give your body motion and strength
- Tendons attach muscles to bones
- Cartilage lines joints to provide a smooth interface
The soft tissues cooperate with the bones to hold your body up, carry your body weight, and move your body.
How Does a Soft Tissue Injury Happen?
Soft tissue injuries often happen when the body experiences trauma. This trauma often takes one of four forms:
Penetrating trauma causes an open wound. This means your soft tissues were cut, torn, or abraded by a foreign object.
Penetrating trauma can happen in any accident. You might experience penetrating trauma in a workplace accident due to a broken nail or tool blade that strikes your body. Similarly, penetrating trauma can happen if you fall onto something, such as a sharp piece of metal, that pierces your body.
Blunt trauma occurs when you get hit by an object that does not leave an open wound. For example, when a car hits your legs in a pedestrian accident, it causes blunt trauma. Similarly, you suffer blunt trauma when you hit your back after a slip and fall accident.
When your body bends, twists, or stretches unnaturally, you can suffer a hyperextension injury. As the soft tissues get stretched, they develop tears that can range in size from microscopic to the full thickness of the tissue.
Hyperextension can happen in almost any accident, including a slip and fall accident where your legs, hips, or back hyperextend. It can also happen in a car accident as your body whips around during the collision.
Overuse injuries happen when tiny cracks in the soft tissues propagate due to repetitive stress. You can imagine it like stretching a rope over and over. Eventually, the damage becomes so great that the soft tissue ruptures or tears.
Overuse injuries often occur in people with jobs that involve repetitive motions like walking or lifting. As a result, many of these injuries fall under workers’ compensation rather than negligence.
What Types of Soft Tissue Injuries Can Occur?
Soft tissue injuries can take many forms, depending on the tissue damage and what happened to it. Some examples of soft tissue injuries include:
Bruises, also called contusions, happen when blood vessels burst inside your muscles.
Common symptoms of bruises include:
- Black, blue, or yellow discoloration
Bruises often dissipate after a few days. You will probably not need to see a doctor for treatment for a bruise. But if you tore the muscle tissue in addition to rupturing the blood vessels, you might have a more serious injury that requires a doctor’s care.
Lacerations happen when a penetrating injury slices or tears your soft tissues. Lacerations produce open wounds that can bleed. If you lose too much blood, your brain may not receive enough oxygen.
Lacerations can also become infected. Infections result from viruses, bacteria, or parasites that enter your body. These microorganisms multiply and compete with your cells. Some microorganisms also release toxins.
In response, your body triggers swelling and a fever. If the response gets out of control, you can develop sepsis.
Strains and Sprains
Strains and sprains often get confused with one another. But these terms describe very different soft tissue injuries. A sprain happens when a ligament gets damaged due to hyperextension.
Symptoms of a sprain include:
- Joint pain
- Limited range of joint motion
Strains happen when a tendon or muscle gets hyperextended.
Symptoms of a strain include:
- Muscle pain
- Muscle weakness and spasms
Mild sprains and strains heal in four to six weeks. You will need rest, ice, and anti-inflammatory medication.
Severe sprains and strains may require reconstructive surgery. For example, doctors may need to operate to repair a full-thickness tear of a muscle, tendon, or ligament.
Cartilage can get torn when you hyperextend a joint. This injury can also result from a blunt or penetrating impact on a joint.
Symptoms of torn cartilage include:
- Joint pain
- Clicking or hitching in the joint
- Limited range of motion
Your body can repair torn cartilage, but healing takes time. You may need months of rest and immobilization of the joint before it heals. Worse yet, torn cartilage may cause arthritis in the joint as the bones grind against each other.
Occasionally, doctors may operate to help the body recover from torn cartilage. Specifically, you may need surgery to remove loose cartilage floating in a joint.
How Can You Recover Compensation for a Soft Tissue Injury?
If someone’s actions caused your soft tissue injury, you can seek personal injury compensation for your losses. Your compensation can cover both economic and non-economic losses.
Economic damages include financial costs such as medical bills, lost income, and diminished earning capacity. Non-economic damages include human costs such as pain, reduced enjoyment of life, and disability.
A soft tissue injury can produce pain and limit your range of motion. While some soft tissue injuries require only home care to heal, others require expensive surgery and physical therapy.
Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes Personal Injury Lawyers has recovered over $675 million for accident victims. If you have suffered a soft tissue injury, contact us for a free consultation.