Soft Tissue Injury

At the Trauma Clinic we will formally assess your soft tissue injury and develop a tailored care plan for your rehabilitation.

Soft tissues injuries include injuries to muscles, tendons and ligaments, but not bone.

Tendons are fibrous bands that hold muscles to bone. Damage to muscles or tendons by overstressing is referred to as a ‘strain’. Ligaments are fibrous bands that hold bones together. Overstretching ligaments is referred to as a ‘sprain’.

Strains and sprains can happen to people of all ages with varied results. They are often caused by twisting injuries or falling.

When soft tissues are damaged, there is usually pain, swelling and bruising. This may also be associated with loss of movement and function, such as not being able to weight bear or fully use the joint. A lot of swelling can slow the healing process.

Initial Management

RICE method: (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation)

The RICE method is an effective procedure used in the initial treatment of a soft tissue injury.

  • Rest: It is suggested that the patient take a break from the activity that caused the injury in order to give the injury time to heal.
  • Ice: The injury should be iced on and off in 20 minute intervals, avoiding direct contact of the ice with the skin.
  • Compression: Bandaging the injury will compress it, and prevent any further bleeding or swelling from occurring.
  • Elevation: Elevating the injury above the heart while resting will aid in the reduction of swelling.
No HARM Protocol: (Heat, Alcohol, Re-injury, Massage)

This method should not be used within the first 48–72 hours after the injury in order to speed up the recovery process.

  • Heat: Applying heat to the injured area can cause blood flow and swelling to increase.
  • Alcohol: Alcohol can inhibit the ability to feel if the injury is becoming more aggravated, as well as increasing blood flow and swelling.
  • Re-injury: Avoid any activities that could aggravate the injury and cause further damage.
  • Massage: Massaging an injured area can promote blood flow and swelling, and potentially cause more damage if done too early.

If severe pain persists after the first 24 hours it is recommended that an individual consult with a healthcare professional. At the Trauma Clinic we can make a diagnosis and implement a treatment plan so that you can return to everyday activities as soon as possible.

Investigations may be required to determine the underlying cause of the injury and assess for potential complications. Depending on the type of injury and stage of recovery we will advise on a variety of methods for rehabilitation such as physiotherapy, pain management and occasionally specialist referral such as an orthopaedic surgeon or musculoskeletal radiologist.

Most soft tissue injuries resolve given time and rehabilitation but we realise that this can vary and there’s no “one size fits all” approach to recovery.

Don’t panic if you’re not 100% back to normal within a few months. If you’ve had a very severe joint soft tissue injury, you might still experience some minor issues up to a year down the line but you can still make a full recovery.

There are things you can do at each stage of your recovery to speed up healing, help your body better repair and prevent injury recurrence.

Our physiotherapy specialists will be able to advise you on the right exercise and treatment at the right time. We’ll also be able to get you back on track if things are taking a bit longer than expected.