Types of Soft Tissue Injuries

Types of Soft Tissue Injuries Many different types of accidents can cause soft tissue injuries. Car, truck, and motorcycle accidents cause these serious injuries. Falls on the premises of another or construction accidents can cause soft tissue injuries. Soft tissue injuries may occur at work, at a nursing home, or due to product defects. These injuries usually also involve damage to nerves, tendons, muscles, and ligaments.

While these types of injuries are often (wrongly) believed to be minor, many victims need extensive physical therapy which often helps with the pain. Victims often have bruises and swelling. While therapy can help manage the pain, many soft tissue injuries are chronic which means they can last, on and off, for a lifetime. Even if they eventually heal, it can still take a very long time, and that can affect your ability to work, spend time with your friends and family, or engage in your daily activities.

What kinds of soft tissue injuries are there?

According to Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, there are six types of soft tissue injuries:


Sprains are normally caused by a twist or wrenching. They are partial ligament tears. Ligaments are “fibrous, elastic” tissue bands that keep the bones stable. Common parts of the body that are affected include ankles, wrists, and knees. Sprains normally occur when the “ankle ligament is stretched beyond the normal range of motion,” as might happen if you twist to keep yourself from hitting the ground after a trip or slip. If the ligament tear is complete, surgery may be necessary.


A contusion is a bruise that is usually due to some type of blunt force. The signs of a contusion include swelling, discoloration (due to bleeding into the tissue), and pain. Therapy for a mild contusion normally includes Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation (known by the shorthand RICE). More serve contusions normally require that the accident victim see a physician and treat with a physical therapist. Head contusions should be checked by a doctor, because enough force could lead to a traumatic brain injury.

Ice should be applied several times a day for about 20 minutes to reduce the swelling. Compression involves wrapping or taping the injury to help improve blood circulation. The affected area should be elevated above the heart, according to Best Surgery Center.


Tendonitis in inflammation of the tendon. A tendon is a “flexible band of tissue that connects muscle to bones.” In addition to RICE therapy, treatments include stretching and strengthening exercises. In some cases, steroid injections may be helpful. A completely torn tendon may require surgery.

Tendonitis often affects the wrists, knees, shoulders, and elbows. They are a common injury for workers who perform repetitive motions all day long, like lifting heavy boxes, bending to pick things up, or swiping items across a price scanner.


Bursitis can be caused by overuse but it can also be caused by direct force on a joint, like the hit your shoulders and elbows take if you tense up during a car accident. It involves the “inflammation of the bursa, a fluid-filled sac that provides a cushion between bones and muscles or tendons.”  Commonly affected areas include the elbow, knee, ankle, foot, shoulder, and the hip.

Standard treatment for bursitis includes rest, compression, anti-inflammatories, and elevation. In the acute phase, ice may be used. Stretching and muscle strengthening exercises help reduce the risk of future injuries. Injections are often used if the pain persists. If your doctor thinks your bursitis is due to an infection, he/she may prescribe antibiotics. Bursitis becomes painful when the bursae become inflamed.

Stress fractures

This type of injury is a small crack in a victim’s bone. It normally happens in the lower extremities (hips, feet, and legs) where the bones bear most of a person’s weight. Stress fractures can happen due to accidents or other causes.

Treatment for stress fractures includes elevation, ice, and anti-inflammatory medications. Additional treatments focus on taking weight away from the affecting area or supporting the affected area. These treatments include rest, using shoe inserts or braces, and may possibly include immobilizing the affected area with a cast. Surgery may be required if the crack develops into a complete break.


Strains are injuries to muscles or tendons due to force (such as the forces of a fall or a car accident), or overuse. RICE is the standard treatment. Surgery may be necessary if a tear in the muscle develops.

Other types of soft tissues injuries


According to IMPACT Physical Therapy, concussions are brain tissue injuries that can cause brain function damage. Auto accidents and falls can easily cause someone in Vancouver or Battle Ground to suffer a concussion. Generally, concussions require immediate care at a local emergency room. Concussions are also considered traumatic brain injuries. Doctors will conduct a neurological exam and cognitive tests. Many different treatments are required depending on the location and severity of the brain injury.


Whiplash is a soft tissue injury that commonly occurs if your car is rear-ended by another vehicle. The injury occurs as the neck whips back and forth.  Some of the signs of whiplash according to the Mayo Clinic include stiffness in the neck, pain when the victim moves his/her neck, loss of motion in the neck, headaches, fatigue, and dizziness. Some whiplash victims do not even realize they have whiplash until a day or a few days after the accident. Treatments include rest, heat or cold, over-the-counter pain medications, and prescription medications. Doctors may also prescribe muscle relaxants and inject lidocaine (Xylocaine).

Physical therapy may include neck and shoulder movement exercises and a transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) which applies a mild electric current to the skin.

How are soft tissue injuries treated?

According to Best Surgery, treatments for soft tissue injuries include:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These medications include aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may help with acute injuries. Victims should speak to their doctors about long-term use of NSAIDs.
  • Corticosteroid injections. These are very strong medications that temporarily reduce inflammation, pain, and swelling. They help give victims time to health while they also use physical therapy to regain mobility and strength.
  • Addition treatments. Other treatments, as discussed above, include splints or braces to immobilize a soft tissue injury, physical therapy, and surgeries such as arthroscopic surgery.

Always consult with a doctor before you start any treatment plan, and seek medical attention if your injuries get worse over time. Early treatment will not only help you, but it will help your personal injury case as well.

At Philbrook Law Office, our Vancouver and Battle Ground, WA personal injury lawyers understand how painful and traumatic soft tissue injuries are. The healing process can take months and often requires numerous visits with healthcare providers. Many victims can’t work and can’t function while they’re healing. Some victims live with chronic pain. We work with your doctors to verify the severity of your injuries, the medical care you need, and how your injuries are affecting every aspect of your life.

To discuss any injuries due to an accident, including soft tissue injuries, call our attorneys in Vancouver or Battle Ground, WA. You can phone us at 360-695-3309 or complete our contact form to schedule an appointment. We represent accident claims on a contingency fee basis.