Soft Tissue Injuries
A soft tissue injury is damage to muscles, ligaments and tendons in a human body. Such an injury could be a sprain or strain. It could also involve bruises or contusions, swelling, or a tear. Because soft tissue injuries do not involve bone, the best method of imaging soft tissue is through magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Insurance companies like to make it seem that “soft tissue” injuries are minor. They do that as part of minimizing an accident victim’s injuries and the compensation they have to pay for those injuries. Insurance companies also tend to stereotype all soft tissue injuries in the same category. What we commonly hear from insurance companies is that soft tissues generally only take 6 to 12 weeks to heal. If an accident victim is still in pain from their soft tissue injury, the insurance company refuse to consider any symptoms 12 weeks after an injury. Again, they do this to minimize what they have to pay to the injured victim.
In reality, however, soft tissue injuries vary greatly in nature and severity. Some soft tissue injuries may be quite painful and debilitating, necessitating surgery. Also, often times, more severe injuries, such as spinal nerve damage, appear and are diagnosed as soft tissue injuries in the beginning.
Soft tissue injuries are categorized as either “acute” injuries or “overuse” injuries. “Acute” soft tissue injuries arise from trauma, such as a fall or a car accident. “Overuse” soft tissue injuries are those that gradually develop over time from activities, such as sports or repetitive use.
The following are some conditions that are considered soft tissue injuries:
- A sprain is a form of acute traumatic injury involving a stretch or partial or complete tear or rupture of ligaments. Ligaments are the tissues that connect the end of one bone with another. When a joint or ligament is taken beyond its functional range of motion, a sprain can result. Think of an ankle sprain that results from twisting of the ankle. Sprains happen at joints (ankles, wrists, elbows, shoulders, etc.) and look like contusions with swelling and bruising. Sprains can also happen to the neck and back. What is commonly called “whiplash” is a sprain of the neck or back ligaments that results when those ligaments are overextended. Whiplash commonly occurs during a car crash. In some cases, pain is the primary indicator of injury for a sprain.
- A strain is an acute traumatic injury to a muscle and/or tendon. Tendons are the tissues that attached the muscles to the bones. The injury could be a stretch or a partial or complete tear. Swelling or inflammation, cramping, spasms, and weakness can accompany strains.
- Bruises or contusions. These conditions involve damage to muscle fibers or connective tissue without breaking of the skin. It can result in skin discoloration, which is caused by blood pooling around the injured tissue. Contusions can also be accompanied by swelling. It can result from a direct blow or repeated blows or from falling.
- Lacerations, abrasions, avulsions. These conditions occur where the soft tissue has been separated and leads to some form of bleeding. These conditions are generally considered open wounds that can lead to infections.
Acute soft tissue injuries generally undergo the following three phases:
- Acute Phase. The acute phase occurs right after the trauma that causes the injury. This is the phase where the pain, bleeding or swelling are at its worst. During this phase, the body is more concerned about protecting itself from further injury. Inflammation is the body’s most basic attempt to protect itself.
- Sub-Acute Phase. In the sub-acute phase, the body transitions to repairing the injured tissues. The body is repairing the injured tissue with what is called scar tissue.
- Late Stage. This phase is also called the remodeling phase. Healing continues during this phase. As the injured person stretches and uses their newly formed or healed tissues, the body may realize the new tissues are not yet strong enough. The body then will automatically stimulate additional new tissue to help strength and support the healing tissue. Scar tissue formed as a result of a soft tissue injury is generally considered less strong and less flexible than the original tissue. This is so despite any form of treatment. Some experts say this stage can take up to 3-12 months after the initial injury, and some even say it could take up to 2 years, or become chronic (i.e., permanent).
How long each of these stages take depends on the severity and location of the injury. The more tissue damage, the longer it will take to heal. Some parts of the body, such as the low back and legs, tend to remain in the acute phase longer.
If you or a loved one have suffered soft tissue injuries from a car accident or a fall, call and speak to an experienced Las Vegas personal injury attorney. If you call D.R. Patti & Associates, you will regularly speak to and meet with an attorney who knows how to deal with insurance companies “delay, deny, defend” strategies.