Soft Tissue Injury
Soft tissue injuries happen all the time. Any traumatic event can strain, sprain, or tear soft tissue. Even repetitive activities can injure soft tissue.
Although these injuries sound minor, some can have life-changing consequences. You could miss substantial time at work and spend months rehabbing after a soft tissue injury. In some cases, you might even need surgery to repair the soft tissue injury.
Here are the things that you should understand about soft tissue injuries and the ways that you may be able to obtain compensation for their effects.
What is the Body’s Soft Tissue?
Soft tissue includes all of the connective tissue that has not become hardened through a process called ossification. Soft tissue does not include bones or teeth, but it does include muscles, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, fat, fibrous tissue, and membranes. Some definitions also include blood vessels and nerves and the connective tissue that supports these structures.
When you think about soft tissue, your mind might jump immediately to the soft tissue that holds your musculoskeletal system together. But connective tissue also holds organs in their correct location. Injuries to these connective tissues can cause serious problems with the organs, including things like a hernia.
How Do Soft Tissue Injuries Happen?
Soft tissue injuries occur when the connective tissues tear, stretch, or detach from their anchor point. These injuries can range from a minor injury that heals in a day or two to severe injuries that never heal.
Ligaments connect bones in your joints. Muscles are designed to move your body. They also help the organs function. For example, muscles help your stomach and intestines to move food through your digestive system. When muscles control a joint, they connect to the bones through tendons.
Cartilage performs a few functions in the joints. It cushions the joints so that your bones do not impact one another when you move. It also provides a smooth, soft interface between the bones of a joint so that your bones do not grind against one another.
Some common soft tissue injuries include:
Sprains occur when ligaments stretch or tear. Minor sprains can usually be healed through home-based treatments, such as icing and resting the sprained ligament. Severe sprains may require surgery to repair the torn ligament.
Strains occur when muscles or tendons stretch or tear. Again, minor strains heal with ice and rest. But unlike strains, doctors very rarely treat muscle and tendon strains with surgery. Instead, they will often prescribe months of physical therapy to help the muscle or tendon heal and build up the surrounding tissue to better support the strained tissue.
A rupture occurs when a tendon or ligament detaches from a bone. A partial rupture may recover on its own with rest and therapy.
A complete rupture usually requires surgery to repair. But doctors cannot operate on every ligament or tendon in your body. Only some ligaments and tendons are candidates for surgical repair.
If a doctor cannot repair a ruptured tendon or ligament, they will usually prescribe physical therapy.
Trauma, overuse, and repetitive actions can tear or wear cartilage. Since blood does not flow to cartilage, cartilage usually cannot heal itself without surgery or other treatment.
Research suggests that doctors might soon develop techniques to regrow cartilage in the body. For now, however, cartilage injuries will often produce chronic pain without surgery.
Repetitive Stress Injuries
Repetitive stress can damage soft tissue in a few ways. Repetitive actions can tear or stretch soft tissues. This damage gets amplified over time because the body does not have time to heal before the actions are repeated.
Repetitive stress can also cause inflammation and swelling. Inflamed and swollen tissue can press on nerves and blood vessels, causing nerve injuries and compartment syndrome. Compartment syndrome occurs when swelling cuts off the blood supply to part of your body and causes tissue to die.
Hernias occur when you tear the soft tissue supporting an organ. This tear allows the organ to slip out of place. Some hernias do not produce any adverse effects. But other hernias risk strangulating the protruding organ by cutting off its blood supply and causing organ death.
What Are the Risk Factors for Soft Tissue Injuries?
Almost every accident causes some kind of soft tissue injury. In many cases, these soft tissue injuries heal on their own. But some types of accidents can cause more severe soft tissue injuries, including:
Car accidents involve a lot of force. These forces can tear or stretch muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Common strains and sprains from a car accident include muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the:
- Rib and chest
Many of these strains and sprains happen when your body hits the seat belt or airbag during a collision. Seat belt injuries are some of the most common soft tissue injuries after a car accident.
Slip and Fall Accidents
Soft tissue injuries occur in almost every slip and fall accident. These injuries can happen during the initial slip when you hyperextend your joints. They can also happen during the fall as you impact the ground.
Soft tissue injuries from slip and fall accidents can damage the knees, hips, back, and neck. You can also injure your wrists, elbows, arms, and shoulders as you try to catch yourself and stop your fall.
The workplace can expose you to both traumatic events and repetitive actions that cause soft tissue injuries.
Elevated falls commonly result in soft tissue injuries, including muscle strains in the neck, back, and hips. Lifting heavy objects can cause hernias. Repetitive stress can strain joints like your hands, wrists, elbows, shoulders, neck, back, hips, knees, and ankles.
Both workplace accidents and repetitive stress can form the basis for a workers’ compensation claim.
What Compensation Can I Recover for Soft Tissue Injuries?
When you file a claim for injuries, you can seek compensation for your past and future medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering.
For minor soft tissue injuries, you can seek only minimal compensation. But for soft tissue injuries that require surgery, physical therapy, or medication, you may be able to receive substantial compensation. Additionally, you may receive substantial compensation if your soft tissue injury interferes with your ability to work.
For painful soft tissue injuries that deprive you of your ability to enjoy some of your favorite activities, you can also seek pain and suffering damages. These damages compensate you for your diminished quality of life after an injury.
Contact a New York City Personal Injury Lawyer for Help
To discuss your soft tissue injury and the potential compensation you can seek, contact the experienced team at Rosenbaum & Rosenbaum, P.C. for a free consultation. Our New York City personal injury attorneys.