Soft Tissue Injuries
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), soft tissue injuries including sprains and strains, back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, hernia, and tendonitis affect hundreds of thousands of American workers, are responsible for ~35% of lost work days each year and cost more than $20 billion a year in workers compensation.
Types of Soft Tissue Injuries
There are two ways to classify soft tissue injuries. Focal lesions are soft tissue injuries that are localized to one tissue area. Focal lesions can occur in muscles, ligaments or fascia. An example of a focal lesion is plantar fasciitis or tennis elbow. Global lesions are soft tissue injuries that are a result of tightness or weakness in an area. An example of a global lesion is tight hip flexors.
Causes of Soft Tissue Injuries
So how do soft tissue injuries occur? A large percentage of soft tissue injuries occur from overuse or repetitive motion. Someone that works on a keyboard all day performing data entry may experience an overuse or repetitive motion injury due to over-activity of the particular muscles involved; e.g. carpal tunnel syndrome. Repetitive motion injuries account for over 50% of all athletic-related injuries seen by doctors and result in huge losses in terms of cost to the workforce. The most common types of repetitive motion injuries are tendonitis and bursitis.
Other ways that soft tissue injuries occur are from acute trauma to a tissue area. Contusions (bruises), strains, sprains and whiplash disorder are different types of soft tissue injuries resulting from acute trauma.
Symptoms of Soft Tissue Injuries
So how do you know if you’re dealing with a soft tissue injury? Obviously, if you sustain some type of acute trauma, you will know that something is wrong. But what about an overuse injury? You may not recognize the signs and symptoms until it’s too late and you end up partially disabled. If you experience constant dull pain, numbness, tingling, swelling or redness in a particular body part that you use more on a day to day basis, you are most likely experiencing a repetitive motion soft tissue injury. Also, a noticeable loss of flexibility or strength in a particular area is a good indicator as well.
If you are suffering from a soft tissue injury, it’s important to be evaluated by a musculoskeletal specialist such as a chiropractor with advanced training in soft tissue analysis and treatment. Preferably someone with training in Active Release Techniques, Graston or Kinesio Taping as well. Once the dysfunction is identified, a specific treatment program is customized to each individual consisting of, but not limited to, functional analysis, stretching, strengthening, soft tissue mobilization, chiropractic care, rehabilitation and physical therapy.
Soft tissue injuries affect hundreds of thousands of people every year. Repetitive motion injuries and acute trauma are two of the main causes of soft tissue injuries. If you or a friend or family member think that you may have sustained a soft tissue injury, please contact our office and schedule an evaluation. Don’t wait for a condition to become chronic. Remember, just because you may be living in pain doesn’t mean that it’s okay.