Soft tissue injuries seem ill-defined. But the soft tissues of your musculoskeletal system suffer very familiar injuries that make your body stiff and sore. After severe accidents, a soft tissue injury can take months or longer to heal. And even after they heal, your tissues might still have permanent damage.
As a result, you might miss substantial time away from work. You might even lose flexibility, range of motion, and strength, forcing you to change jobs or quit working altogether.
If you’ve suffered a soft tissue injury after an accident, it is essential that you learn more about these injuries and the compensation you may be able to seek for them.
The Soft Tissues of Your Musculoskeletal System
Your body has structure, strength, and motion because of your musculoskeletal system. This system provides the scaffolding that holds your body up and allows you to carry your body weight. It also moves your body and gives you the strength to walk, lift, and jump.
The musculoskeletal system includes the skeleton and the soft tissues. The skeleton includes calcified bones. Bone cells use minerals like calcium and phosphorus to create a rigid but light matrix.
The soft tissues make up the rest of your musculoskeletal system. They serve many purposes, including binding, moving, and strengthening the body. The soft tissues include:
Ligaments hold your skeleton together at the joints. The tough and elastic ligaments also guide the motion of the bones at your joints. For example, the ligaments in your knee prevent it from bending backward or sideways.
Tendons and Muscles
Tendons hold your muscles to your skeleton. The muscles flex and relax to move your body. They use the bones for leverage by pulling them with tendons.
Fat insulates the body by keeping the heat in. It also stores energy that your body can draw using the liver.
Cartilage is formed from collagen. The cartilage in your joints protects the surfaces of your bones from grinding on one another. The cartilage in your ears, nose, and chest provides flexible structures.
What Causes a Soft Tissue Injury?
Soft tissue injuries can result from diseases. For example, lupus can cause the soft tissues in your joints to inflame and swell.
Trauma can also cause a soft tissue injury. Some types of trauma that can injure soft tissues include:
When an object pierces your soft tissues, it can cause an open wound. This type of penetrating trauma lacerates the soft tissues. It also ruptures blood vessels, causing you to bleed.
Penetrating trauma can happen in any type of accident. For example, a workplace accident can cause a sharp object to fall on you.
When a blunt object hits you, it can stretch and tear your soft tissues. It can also rupture blood vessels. But instead of bleeding, you will develop a bruise because the intact skin traps the blood.
Blunt trauma can occur when an object hits you. Thus, you would suffer blunt trauma when a semi-truck strikes your body in a pedestrian accident. You can also experience blunt trauma when your body hits the ground. A slip and fall accident causes blunt trauma to your back and head when you fall back onto the floor.
An accident can cause your body to bend or twist unnaturally. These motions, particularly under powerful forces and high speeds, can stretch and even rupture your soft tissues.
Hyperextension of the soft tissues often causes sports injuries. Car accidents can also cause hyperextension injuries to the soft tissues. The whipping motion your head and body experience during a collision causes the soft tissues to stretch, then compress.
Small stresses on your body cause microscopic tears to form in your soft tissues. This minor damage will cause you to feel stiff and sore, but it will heal after you rest.
But suppose that you have a job that subjects you to repetitive stresses without the time to heal. These microscopic tears grow. The torn tissue could rupture. Or it could inflame, producing pain and swelling. Fortunately, workers’ compensation provides medical and disability benefits to workers who develop repetitive stress injuries to their soft tissues.
Examples of Soft Tissue Injuries
Trauma can cause a variety of soft tissue injuries, including:
Penetrating trauma can lacerate the soft tissues. Minor cuts will heal over a few days or weeks. Severe lacerations can rupture muscles, tendons, ligaments, and other soft tissues.
But lacerations often produce severe complications. A laceration can become infected when microorganisms invade the body through the open wound. A severe infection can cause septic shock.
And when an object penetrates deeply into the soft tissues, it can tear nerves and blood vessels. Severed nerves will cease to carry nerve signals, leaving you paralyzed. Ruptured blood vessels will deprive the tissue of its blood supply, causing gangrene.
Strains and Sprains
Strains and sprains often get confused with each other. But they produce very distinct symptoms. Strains happen when muscles or tendons get hyperextended or torn. This injury produces:
- Muscle swelling
- Muscle spasms
Sprains, on the other hand, occur when a ligament hyperextends or tears. As a result, you may experience:
- Joint pain and inflammation
- Limited range of joint motion
- Joint instability
Minor strains and sprains can heal without medical care. Instead, rest, anti-inflammatory drugs, and icing the injury can reduce the swelling and allow the tissue to repair itself. Severe strains and sprains might require reconstructive surgery, particularly if the tissue tore completely.
Cartilage can tear under the forces of any of the four types of trauma. When cartilage tears, pieces can get stuck in your joint. And without the protective layer of cartilage, your bones can rub against each other. The grinding of the bones will wear them down, producing the inflammation and pain that characterize osteoarthritis.
Can You Get Compensation for Soft Tissue Injuries?
You can seek compensation for soft tissue injuries if you can prove they resulted from another’s actions. Negligence means that the other person failed to exercise reasonable care. For example, a driver acts negligently by rear-ending your vehicle while texting and driving.
Lopez Law Group Accident Injury Attorneys have over 25 years of experience fighting for accident victims in Florida, recovering millions in compensation for them. If you’ve been injured, contact us for a free consultation today at (727) 933-0015.