St. Louis Chiropractor for Sprains & Strains
The most prevalent soft tissue injuries are those that are associated with tendons, muscles and ligaments. These types of injuries happen quite often to athletes but they can result from simple everyday movements too. Sprains, strains, bruises, bursitis and tendonitis are among the most common forms of soft tissue injury and if these injuries are bad enough they may take a long time to heal.
Categories of soft tissue injuries
Injuries involving soft tissues fall into one of two basic categories: these are acute injuries and overuse injuries.
- Acute injuries
These types of soft tissue injuries are caused by sudden trauma. They are often the result of such events as a fall, twist or collision. These result in sprains, bruises and strains.
- Overuse injuries
These types of soft tissue injury happen gradually over time. They occur because some type of activity is repeated very often without time for the body to heal in between events. Tendinitis and bursitis are examples of this.
Acute Soft-Tissue Injuries
When acute soft tissue injuries occur a course of treatment called the RICE protocol is often followed to speed healing:
Stop doing the type of activity that led to the injury. Crutches may be recommended in the event the injury is to a leg.
Put ice on the injured area several times a day. Never apply ice directly to the surface of the skin.
Compression bandages are used to prevent more swelling and blood loss.
The injured area should be raised higher than the heart while at rest.
A sprain involves a stretching and/or tearing of a ligament. Ligaments are described as banded connective tissues that connect two bones together. They stabilize and support the joints. Vulnerable areas in the body include knees, wrists and ankles.
- Grade 1
Very slight stretching and damage to ligament fibers.
- Grade 2
A partial tear of the ligament where abnormal looseness results in the joint when moved.
- Grade 3
The ligament is torn completely and the joint becomes nonfunctional.
All three types of sprains will usually involve pain, swelling and bruising. Mild sprains are treated with physical therapy and the RICE protocol and may even necessitate bracing. Severe sprains may have surgery done to fix torn ligaments.
These injuries occur to muscles and tendons. The fibrous cords that attach muscle to the bone are tendons. Strains happen often to the foot, back and hamstrings. These also can involve injuries that are minor such as a simple over stretching of a muscle or tendon and when severe can cause a tear in the tendon and muscle combination. Symptoms include pain, weakness, spasms, swelling and cramps.
Treatment for strains is exactly the same as treatment for sprains. Use the RICE protocol and simple exercises for minor strains and surgery may be required for serious tears.
These are caused by a single or by repeated blows to an area of the body. They crush underlying tissue and muscle fiber but do not break the skin. Discoloration of the skin is the result of blood pooling up at the injured area.
RICE protocol works very well on bruises. Only in the most severe cases is medical treatment needed.
Overuse Soft-Tissue Injuries
This is an irritation or inflammation to a tendon’s covering (sheath) or the tendon itself. It occurs after a series of small stresses that act upon a tendon. It is usually accompanied by pain and swelling and gets worse as activity is increased.
It is most often treated by rest and that treatment may include anti-inflammatory medication, splints, exercise and steroid injections. In severe cases surgery may be required.
These are best described as tiny jelly like sacs that are found throughout the body; this includes the knee, heel, shoulder, hip and elbow areas. Each one contains fluid and they are located between the bones to reduce friction and provide cushion.
When these sacs become inflamed that is called bursitis. Swelling results when bursa are continuously subjected to small stresses and overuse. It is often present in conjunction with tendonitis.
It is usually relieved by lessening the activity that caused the injury and by the use of anti-inflammatory medication. If this does not work then your doctor may elect to inject a very effective corticosteroid medication directly into the Bursa. Surgery for bursitis is extremely rare and usually involves removing the bursa completely.
These types of injuries tend to occur when people suddenly increase the level and intensity of their physical activity. Proper stretching, conditioning and training methods can go a long way towards avoiding these types of injuries.
Here are some other ways to avoid these injuries too:
- Use proper equipment
Wear loose fitting clothing and proper athletic shoes.
- Balanced fitness
When working out use a mix of flexibility training, cardiovascular exercise and strength training. Build your workouts up gradually so your body gets used to the new level of physical activity.
- Warm up
A proper warmup is essential when doing any type of physical activity. Run in place and do some deep breathing exercises even before stretching. A good warmup loosens up ligaments, tendons, muscles and joints.
- Drink water
Proper fluid intake is another essential component while partaking in physical activity. It is recommended to stop and take a drink of water every 20 minutes when doing any form of physical activity.
- Cool down
It’s not good for your body to go from being exerted to being at rest so make sure you put a cool down period into your workout routine. A general rule here is any cool down period should take twice as long as your warmup.
Stretching should be done slowly and carefully to start with; especially once you get to the point where you feel the muscle tension. Maintain control and do not bounce while stretching.
It is very important to take regular rest days so your body has a chance to heal. If you are tired or in pain rest until you recover from these conditions.