Treatment Options for Soft Tissue Injuries

Soft Tissue Injuries
 

 

 

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Soft tissue injuries involve damage to the ligaments, tendons and muscles. Ligaments are strong bands of fibrous tissue that connect bone to bone and stabilise a joint. Tendons are strong fibrous bands that attach muscle to bone. Injuries can result from repeated overuse or a sudden, single injury e.g. a fall, or twisting of the area.

Types of soft tissue injuries include:

  • Sprains
  • Strains
  • Contusions
  • Tendonitis
  • Bursitis


Sprains

A sprain is a complete or partial tear (rupture) of a ligament from over-extension of a joint. Commonly affected areas are wrists (falling and landing on outstretched hand), ankles (foot turns inwards) and knees (sudden twisting). The intensity of the signs and symptoms of a sprain depend on the severity of the sprain. Mild sprains (Grade I) usually display minimum pain and swelling and little or no loss of function (use of the area). Moderate sprains (Grade II) are still an incomplete tear with bruising, pain and swelling with a greater degree of difficulty in weight bearing. Severe sprains (Grade III, complete tear) cause pain, swelling, bruising and an inability to weight bear on the affected area.

 

Strains

A strain is an injury to muscle or tendon that can be partial or complete and that occurs through twisting, pulling or overuse of the muscle or tendon. Strains often occur with sporting activities and the hamstring muscle located in the back of the thigh, is a common site of injury. A sudden (acute) strain can be the result of recent trauma or injury to the area e.g. incorrect lifting of heavy objects. Chronic strains represent repetitive overuse of a muscle or tendon e.g. the elbow in tennis players.

 

Contusions

A contusion is a bruise to soft tissue usually as a result of a blunt force or blow to the area. Blood pools under the skin causing discolouration, swelling and pain.

 

Tendonitis

Tendonitis is inflammation of the tendon sheath or the tendon itself from stress to the tendon.

 

Bursitis

Bursitis is inflammation of the bursa a synovial fluid filled sac that lies between certain tendons and the bones beneath them allowing the tendon to glide smoothly over the bone. Injury or excessive, traumatic exercise and overuse can cause small stresses to the bursa e.g. housemaid's knee.

 

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Treatment Options

 

Treatment for soft tissue injuries comprises rest (R), ice packs (I), compression (C) and elevation (E) - RICE. Rest and ice packs will assist to reduce pain and swelling in the first 24 to 48 hours. Compression with an elastic bandage and elevation will also contribute towards a reduction in swelling and the extremity must be raised above heart level. Severe ligament damage may require immobilisation in a splint.

 

Medical treatment must be sought if a popping sound is heard when the joint is injured and there is early swelling to the area with an inability to weight bear.

Mild strains and sprains can be taped or bandaged. The main objectives for taping or strapping the injured area are to:

  • Provide protection and support the unstable ligaments, muscles or tendons
  • Restrict the range of motion without severely interfering with normal function
  • Limit re-injury to the area
  • Return the area to normal function as soon as possible

The types of tapes and bandages used are categorised into light and strong support. Mild strains and sprains will require light support e.g. Handycrepe# Medium Weight .
Moderate to severe sprains and strains can be provided with additional support using strong support bandages e.g. Handycrepe Heavy .

 

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Product Selection

 

Grade I


Minimum pain and swelling,
no loss of function

Light Support Bandaging, including:

 

Grade II and III

 

Complete or incomplete tear of soft tissue with pain, swelling and impaired weight bearing ability

Strong Support Bandaging, including:

Bracing

Splinting

 

 

 

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Related Links

 

Bandaging Application Tips and Techniques >

 

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