Soft tissue injuries have a bad reputation. Insurers may view soft tissue injuries with skepticism because they often don’t show up on X-rays or other diagnostic tests.
But soft tissue injuries do happen, and they can produce severe symptoms. Torn cartilage, sprains, and strains can keep you from working or even performing daily activities like driving and shopping.
Read on to learn about soft tissue injuries and the compensation you can seek for their effects after an accident.
What Are the Soft Tissues of the Musculoskeletal System?
Your musculoskeletal system includes both soft tissues and bones. Your bones contain all of the calcified tissues, while your soft tissues include everything else.
Since bones have minerals like calcium and phosphorus inside them, they have a rigid structure. This structure distinguishes bones from soft tissues.
Soft tissues also contain minerals and can have tough or rigid structures, but they do not have a high enough mineral content to become brittle. Some soft tissues included in your musculoskeletal system include the following:
Muscles and Tendons
Muscles give your body strength and movement. Tendons anchor your muscles to your bones.
Ligaments hold your bones together at the joints. Ligaments often get confused with tendons, but ligaments connect bones to other bones. Tendons connect muscles to bones.
Cartilage is made from a protein called collagen. Collagen gives cartilage a tough but smooth structure.
Cartilage provides structure to some body parts like your nose and ears. It provides cushioning and lubrication to your joints.
What Causes Soft Tissue Injuries?
Soft tissues can get injured in many ways, including:
Hyperextension happens when your body gets stretched beyond its normal range. Hyperextension can injure your soft tissues by stretching or tearing them. The bending and twisting of your body in a car accident can cause hyperextension injuries.
Blunt Force Injury
Blunt force injuries happen when something strikes soft tissue without creating an open wound. Blunt force injuries can rupture cells causing bleeding and cell death. The impact of a vehicle or the road in a pedestrian accident can result in blunt force injuries.
Penetrating injuries happen when something hits you and creates an open wound. The damage to the soft tissue in a penetrating injury can cause life-threatening bleeding. Even if the bleeding is minor, the open wound can result in an infection.
What Are Some Examples of a Soft Tissue Injury?
Soft tissue injuries include numerous types of injuries. Some examples of soft tissue injuries include:
Hyperextension injuries can tear cartilage. Blunt or penetrating injuries to body parts made of cartilage, like your nose and ears, can also damage the cartilage inside.
Symptoms of torn cartilage in your joints include:
- Joint pain
- Grinding, clicking, or hitching as you move the joint
- Joint stiffness or limited motion
Cartilage can regrow, but it takes time. You might need to significantly change your routine or avoid certain activities, like exercise, while the torn cartilage heals.
In many cases, doctors will simply prescribe rest and anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce swelling. If your joint contains floating cartilage that impedes joint movement, doctors may perform arthroscopic surgery to remove the loose pieces.
Strains and Sprains
Strains and sprains often get confused with each other or are used interchangeably. But strains and sprains affect different soft tissues and have different symptoms.
Strains happen when a muscle or tendon gets stretched or torn.
Symptoms of a strain include:
- Muscle stiffness
- Muscle spasms
Sprains happen when a ligament gets stretched or torn.
Symptoms of a sprain include:
- Joint pain
- Joint instability
- Popping sound or feeling in the joint when you injured it
Doctors rate strains and sprains by the severity of the tissue damage. Mild strains and sprains will heal on their own in four to six weeks with rest, ice, and anti-inflammatories. Severe strains and sprains might require immobilization using a brace during your recovery.
If the strain or sprain involves a full-thickness tear, the muscle, tendon, or ligament has separated into two pieces. Doctors may recommend surgery to repair the torn tissue.
Doctors refer to bruises as contusions. Contusions result from broken blood vessels under the skin from a blunt force injury.
Contusions usually appear discolored from pooled blood under your skin. Contusions cause pain and swelling that may limit your range of motion.
Contusions usually heal over a few weeks with rest.
Lacerations happen when soft tissue gets cut. These injuries result from penetrating injuries.
Bleeding poses the greatest risk from a laceration. Severe bleeding can cause death in as little as five minutes.
Lacerations can also cause nerve damage. Severed nerves cannot carry nerve signals.
If a laceration severs a nerve, you might experience:
- Loss of dexterity
- Loss of sensitivity to temperature or pressure
Doctors can sometimes repair severed nerves with a nerve graft. If they cannot repair it, the nerve will not regrow, and you will suffer permanent disability.
Abrasions happen when your skin and soft tissue get scraped. These injuries can cause pain, swelling, and minor bleeding.
The greatest risk from abrasions comes from infection. Microorganisms that enter the body through the abrasion will multiply. As they multiply, they release toxins to kill your soft tissues so that they don’t need to compete for resources.
In response, your body will increase its internal temperature and cause the injury to swell. This traps the microorganisms but also makes you sick.
Doctors treat infections with antibiotics.
What Compensation Can You Seek for a Soft Tissue Injury?
If your soft tissue injury resulted from someone else’s negligent acts, you can seek compensation. The compensation for a soft tissue injury may include economic losses like your medical expenses, lost income, and other financial costs of your injury.
Your compensation may also include your non-economic losses. These losses cover the impact of your soft tissue injury on your quality of life and include pain, mental anguish, and an inability to engage in activities.
After a soft tissue injury, symptoms might prevent you from working for weeks or even months. During this time, your quality of life might diminish significantly as you experience brain fog and other difficulties. To learn about the compensation you can seek for your soft tissue injury, contact Roman Austin Personal Injury Lawyers for a free consultation at (727) 787-2500.