4 common types of soft tissue injury and how PT can help them

Experiencing chronic pain or other persistent symptoms after being injured? You may have a soft tissue injury. A soft tissue injury is any injury that affects the soft tissue in your body. When this tissue is injured, it can lead to discomfort and impact your physical abilities. The severity of your symptoms will typically depend on the nature of your injury. If your injury impacts vital soft tissue in your leg, for example, you may have trouble doing things like walking and running. After sustaining a soft tissue injury, treatment is essential. Receiving fast and effective care can be crucial to making a full recovery.


When seeking treatment for a soft tissue injury, it is important to find the right solution. Some kinds of treatment, like pain medications, might help temporarily alleviate your symptoms, but they may not address the root cause. For lasting results, physical therapy can be an excellent option. To ensure that you receive the best care for your condition, it can help to learn more about the most effective PT treatment types.


What is a soft tissue injury?


Soft tissue injuries are a relatively broad category encompassing a variety of more specific injury types. In general terms, a soft tissue injury is an injury that causes damage to any of the soft tissue located throughout the body. Soft tissue includes muscles, blood vessels, fat, tendons, nerves and more. You can think of soft tissue as the counterpart to the “hard tissue” that makes up your bones. 


In your body’s daily functioning, your soft tissue serves a range of purposes. It helps keep all your systems connected, supported and healthy. Not sure if your condition is a soft tissue injury? Learning about common kinds of soft tissue injuries can help you become an informed participant in the treatment process.


What are some common types of soft tissue injuries?

  • Muscle and tendon strains — Feeling pain around a muscle or a tendon? You might have a strain. A strain can happen when a muscle or tendon stretches too far or tears. The tissue damage can lead to pain, swelling and other symptoms. As a result of the tissue damage and swelling that follows, you may notice your range of motion is restricted around the injury site. Straining your biceps, for example, can hinder your arm’s ability to move at the shoulder and elbow. To prevent muscle and tendon strain, it is important to know your physical limits. These injuries are often caused by repeated stress and overexertion. Rough sudden movements can also cause strains. If you are an athlete or someone who does physical labor, you might be at a heightened risk for strains. Understanding how these injuries happen can be a good way to keep yourself safe.

  • Ligament sprains — A sprain is similar to a strain. The key difference is the kind of tissue each injury affects. Instead of muscles and tendons, sprains affect the ligaments. A ligament is a band of fibrous tissue that works to hold things in place. Ligaments connect joints, bones and cartilage throughout your body to help everything work cohesively. When a ligament is damaged, typically through a twisting or wrenching motion, the result is a sprain. You may experience swelling and bruising around the injury site. Other common symptoms include persistent aches, pains, and joint instability. If you have sustained a sprain, finding relief from your symptoms is essential. With the right kind of treatment, you can address your symptoms while working toward a rapid recovery.

  • Bruising — Bruising is one of the most common physical injuries. Bruises, sometimes called contusions, are typically caused by blunt force trauma. Bruises involve damage to blood vessels, leading to discoloration in the surrounding tissue. The visual aspect of bruising can make it easy to identify compared to some other kinds of soft tissue injury. After a rough fall or other major impact, you might notice the skin in the affected area changing color. Bruises tend to change color over time after the initial injury. Depending on the severity of a bruise and when it happened, your bruise might be red, green, yellow, purple, black or blue. The discolored area will typically feel swollen and very tender to the touch. While bruises often heal on their own, particularly intense bruising can require professional attention. Knowing when to get help is important for maintaining your health. If you have bruises that are causing major disruptive symptoms for extended periods, it may be time to seek treatment.

  • Tendon injuries — Tendons are the connective cords of tissue that attach your muscles to your bones. If you tear a tendon, you should seek treatment right away. You may notice pain, reddish discoloration and tenderness radiating from the injury spot. With the right treatment, you can work to efficiently address these symptoms. Not all tendon injuries are sudden. In the case of tendinitis, which is the inflammation of the tendons, the condition tends to develop gradually. Overuse and improper exercise techniques are common causes of tendon irritation. For most tendon injuries, rest is an essential part of the recovery process. Physical therapy can also play a pivotal role.


What is the best PT treatment for a soft tissue injury?

  • Manual therapy Manual therapy can be a great way to address your injury. Techniques that involve a physical therapist using their hands to mobilize and manipulate tissue are collectively called manual therapy. With a range of manual therapy techniques, your physical therapist can select those best suited for your particular soft tissue injury. Your therapist can help alleviate your symptoms through controlled pressure and gentle motions applied to your soft tissue. These motions can also promote circulation, which can accelerate your body’s natural healing processes. From pain relief to enhanced joint mobility, manual therapy can offer many benefits.

  • Therapeutic exercise — Physical therapy can be a great way to address physical issues while also improving your overall fitness. Therapeutic exercises are just one example of PT’s multifaceted holistic approach to care. Working one-on-one with your physical therapist, you can develop a treatment plan that includes exercises tailored to your needs. These might include light stretches and strengthening workouts that address the areas affected by your injury.

  • IASTM technique — Want to take your manual therapy to the next level? One PT technique involves physical therapists using specialized tools instead of their hands alone to address soft tissue injuries. This technique is called instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM). With high-quality ergonomic instruments, your physical therapist can help improve blood flow and reduce inflammation around your injury. By addressing the root of your symptoms, IASTM can offer long-term relief from aches and pains.

  • Dry needling — When it comes to pain relief after an injury, dry needling can be an excellent treatment option. Dry needling is a technique that involves the insertion of dry, sterile needles into your injured tissue. Rather than delivering medication, the needles themselves are the treatment. Dry needles are designed to elicit a positive physical response from your body. They can help reduce inflammation, relieve stress and trigger healing processes.


Get treatment for your soft tissue injury at Continuum Wellness


Ready to get your injury treated? At Continuum Wellness, we are ready to provide the treatment you need. Our clinic is devoted to offering tailored care that improves the well-being of each patient. With a personalized treatment plan designed to meet your needs and goals, we can help you work toward a great recovery.


Call us or request an appointment today for top-notch rehabilitative care. 

For more information, Contact Us Today.

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