Detailed information on the most common types of soft-tissue injuries.
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What are soft-tissue injuries?
Many activities can lead to damage of the muscles, ligaments, tendons, and other soft tissues. The result can be pain, swelling, and bruising. Soft-tissue injuries are classified as the following:
Athletes and nonathletes share many similar soft-tissue injuries.
What is a bruise?
A bruise is an injury to the soft tissue. It's often caused by a blunt force, such as a kick, fall, or blow. These injuries result in pain, swelling, and discoloration because of bleeding into the tissue. Treatment for bruises includes rest, ice, compression, and elevation (R.I.C.E.). More serious bruises may need to be examined by a healthcare provider.
What is a sprain?
A sprain is a partial tear of a ligament. It's often caused by a wrench or twist. Sprains can affect any joint but, most often, the ankles, knees, spine or wrists. Treatment for a mild sprain includes rest, ice, compression, and elevation (R.I.C.E.). Moderate sprains may benefit from physical therapy. If the ligament is completely torn, surgical repair may be needed.
What is tendonitis?
Tendonitis is inflammation of the tendon, a band of tissue that connects muscle to bones. Tendonitis is often due to an overuse injury from repetitive motion or overload. Areas commonly affected include the elbow, hand, wrist, shoulder, hip, knee, ankle, and foot. Often the tendonitis is named for the sport or movement that triggers the inflammation, such as tennis or golfer's elbow, swimmer's shoulder, and jumper's knee.
Treatment involves healing the inflamed area with rest, compression, elevation, and anti-inflammatory medicine. Ice may be used immediately after the injury. Your healthcare provider may prescribe stretching and strengthening exercises. These can gradually be added to help healing and prevent further injury. Steroid injections may be used for some types of tendonitis if chronic pain persists. If a tendon is completely torn, surgery may be needed.
What is bursitis?
Bursitis is irritation in the area of a bursa that can fill with a fluid, providing a cushion between bones and muscles or tendons. Like tendonitis, bursitis is often caused by overuse, but can also be caused by direct injury to a joint. Bursitis commonly affects the shoulder, elbow, knee, hip, ankle, and foot.
Treatment involves rest, compression, elevation, and anti-inflammatory medicine. Ice may be used immediately after injury to reduce swelling. Injections may be needed if pain and swelling persist. If the bursitis is caused by an infection, your healthcare provider may prescribe antibiotics. Surgery is rarely needed.
What is a stress fracture?
A stress fracture is a small crack in a bone. It commonly occurs in the weight-bearing bones of the legs, hips, and feet. They are most often caused by overuse and increase in physical activity. At first, treatment includes stopping the activity that caused the fracture, elevation, ice, and anti-inflammatory medicine. Continued treatment includes rest, decreasing weight-bearing on the affected area, shoe inserts or braces, and in some cases, a cast. If the crack in the bone progresses to a complete break, surgery may be needed.
What is a strain?
A strain is an injury to a muscle or tendon, and is often caused by overuse, or an excessive force. Treatment for a strain is rest, ice, compression, and elevation (R.I.C.E). Prescribed stretching and strengthening exercises from a medical professional can gradually be added to help healing and prevent further injury. If a tear in the muscle or tendon occurs, surgical repair may be needed.
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