What are soft-tissue injuries?
Many activities can lead to damage of the muscles, ligaments, tendons, and other soft
tissues. The result can be pain, swelling, and bruising. Soft-tissue injuries are
classified as the following:
Athletes and nonathletes share many similar soft-tissue injuries.
What is a bruise?
A bruise is an injury to the soft tissue. It's often caused by a blunt force, such
as a kick, fall, or blow. These injuries result in pain, swelling, and discoloration
because of bleeding into the tissue. Treatment for bruises includes rest, ice, compression,
and elevation (R.I.C.E.). More serious bruises may need to be examined by a healthcare
What is a sprain?
A sprain is a partial tear of a ligament. It's often caused by a wrench or twist.
Sprains can affect any joint but, most often, the ankles, knees, spine or wrists.
Treatment for a mild sprain includes rest, ice, compression, and elevation (R.I.C.E.).
Moderate sprains may benefit from physical therapy. If the ligament is completely
torn, surgical repair may be needed.
What is tendonitis?
Tendonitis is inflammation of the tendon, a band of tissue that connects muscle to
bones. Tendonitis is often due to an overuse injury from repetitive motion or overload.
Areas commonly affected include the elbow, hand, wrist, shoulder, hip, knee, ankle,
and foot. Often the tendonitis is named for the sport or movement that triggers the
inflammation, such as tennis or golfer's elbow, swimmer's shoulder, and jumper's knee.
Treatment involves healing the inflamed area with rest, compression, elevation, and
anti-inflammatory medicine. Ice may be used immediately after the injury. Your healthcare
provider may prescribe stretching and strengthening exercises. These can gradually
be added to help healing and prevent further injury. Steroid injections may be used
for some types of tendonitis if chronic pain persists. If a tendon is completely torn,
surgery may be needed.
What is bursitis?
Bursitis is irritation in the area of a bursa that can fill with a fluid, providing
a cushion between bones and muscles or tendons. Like tendonitis, bursitis is often
caused by overuse, but can also be caused by direct injury to a joint. Bursitis commonly
affects the shoulder, elbow, knee, hip, ankle, and foot.
Treatment involves rest, compression, elevation, and anti-inflammatory medicine. Ice
may be used immediately after injury to reduce swelling. Injections may be needed
if pain and swelling persist. If the bursitis is caused by an infection, your healthcare
provider may prescribe antibiotics. Surgery is rarely needed.
What is a stress fracture?
A stress fracture is a small crack in a bone. It commonly occurs in the weight-bearing
bones of the legs, hips, and feet. They are most often caused by overuse and increase
in physical activity. At first, treatment includes stopping the activity that caused
the fracture, elevation, ice, and anti-inflammatory medicine. Continued treatment
includes rest, decreasing weight-bearing on the affected area, shoe inserts or braces,
and in some cases, a cast. If the crack in the bone progresses to a complete break,
surgery may be needed.
What is a strain?
A strain is an injury to a muscle or tendon, and is often caused by overuse, or an
excessive force. Treatment for a strain is rest, ice, compression, and elevation (R.I.C.E).
Prescribed stretching and strengthening exercises from a medical professional can
gradually be added to help healing and prevent further injury. If a tear in the muscle
or tendon occurs, surgical repair may be needed.