ACUTE SOFT TISSUE INJURIES: STRAINS, SPRAINS, AND CONTUSIONS
Acute injuries occur when there is sudden, abnormal overloading placed on the tissues, such as a physical blow or a rapid movement, as might occur in muscle injuries in sprinting or blunt trauma in contact sports.
A stretch or tear of a ligament, a connective tissue that connects the ends of two bones and helps to secure the body's joints. The areas of the body that are most vulnerable to sprains are the ankles, knees, and wrists. Signs and symptoms can vary in intensity depending on the severity and may include:
Often referred to as pulled or torn muscle, strain results from overstretching or overexerting a tendon or a muscle. Tendons are the end parts of a muscle that attaches it to the bone. A strain may be a simple stretch of a muscle or tendon, or it may be a partial or complete tear of the muscle and tendon. Strains often affect the back, groin, and hamstring. Strains vary in severity depending on how much damage the muscle sustain:
Bruises are due to a direct blow or repeated blows by blunt trauma to the body, such as from falling or jamming the body against a hard surface, crushing the muscle beneath and damaging the blood vessels, causing bleeding into the surrounding tissues and resulting in skin discoloration or hematoma. The most commonly involved is the quadriceps in contact sports.
Acute soft tissue injuries are initially managed with the PRICE Protocol.
However, it’s emphasized that early mobilizationin the pain-free range should be encouraged to prevent disuse weakness, tightness, and wasting of the associated muscles and soft tissue structures. It is also encouraged to use anti-inflammatory medications only for pain relief so as not to disturb the inflammatory process as it’s an essential part of tissue repair and healing. Once acute symptoms are resolved, physical therapy may be required to rehabilitate the newly repaired muscle, tendon, or ligament. In severe cases, such as when there’s a complete tear of a muscle, tendon, or ligament, surgical treatment to repair the tear may be needed.