You might be surprised by just how many people are walking around with soft tissue injuries. In fact, you could be living with a soft tissue injury if you have undiagnosed pain somewhere in your body. We place a big emphasis on bone injuries because we understand that fractures and breaks are serious. However, few people pay enough attention to the seriousness of a soft tissue injury. Take a look at the signs of a soft tissue injury, the dangers of leaving soft tissue injuries untreated and the best way to treat a soft tissue injury.
What Is a Soft Tissue Injury?
A soft tissue injury is an injury impacting any of the soft tissue within the body. These injuries can take many forms. Here’s a look at what you can usually expect from a soft tissue injury:
- Bruising: Yes, those bruises that pop up on your body are signs of injuries. Bruising occurs when there’s damage to your small blood vessels that’s strong enough to create purple coloring and swelling.
- Sprains: Sprains are actually tears in the ligament fibers that support your joints.
- Contusions/Muscle Tears: Muscle contusions are also caused by torn fibers.
- Tendinitis: This is inflammation or irritation of a tendon.
- Bursitis: This is inflammation of the fluid-filled pads cushioning your joints.
Your actual experience with a soft tissue injury can range from barely noticeable to severe. The good news is that most soft tissue injuries will heal with very little fanfare. Rest is often all that’s needed. Of course, not everyone has a lifestyle that permits rest. This is where you can get into trouble with an injury lingering due to lack of proper attention.
What Are Some Ways to Treat a Soft Tissue Injury at Home?
A soft tissue injury probably won’t require a visit for emergency care the way that a bone injury would. That means that you can often get away with “taking it easy” at home if you felt some sort of strain or tension that you suspect is a soft tissue injury. People often experience soft tissue injuries when running, working out, playing sports or doing repetitive motions for work. No, you don’t have to be a star athlete to get a soft tissue injury. You don’t even necessarily have to be a very active person to experience a soft tissue injury. In fact, not being properly “warmed up” can easily put you at risk for this type of injury. A person who is inactive can be particularly vulnerable due to the natural muscle weakness that occurs over time when we don’t exercise or stretch. We can also become much more vulnerable to soft tissue injuries as we age.
What should you do if you suspect that you have a tissue injury? While you may feel the “strain” in the moment, it’s actually more likely that you’ll notice a nagging pain or loss of range of motion down the line that causes you to suspect that you have an undiagnosed injury. Here are some tips for addressing a soft tissue injury on your own at home:
- Rest: This is truly the most important step! If possible, stop doing the activity or motion that you suspect caused your injury.
- Elevation: Raising the injured limb or part of your body above your heart can be beneficial in some cases.
- Ice: Icing an injury may temporarily relieve swelling.
Of course, you may want to get serious about soft tissue therapy if you have an injury that is causing pain, discomfort or loss of range of motion. The right treatment plan starts with the right diagnosis of your injury. You can then take advantage of a wide variety of treatments designs to strengthen and soothe your muscles.
Treating a Soft Tissue Injury
You’re a perfect candidate for a noninvasive, highly conservative treatment plan if you have a soft tissue injury! In fact, many of the therapies used to treat soft tissue injuries also happen to be highly therapeutic and relaxing. A big part of restoring function and comfort to the area is simply relaxing the area. The goal is also to speed up your body’s own natural tissue-healing abilities. Massage therapy is the preferred treatment for healing soft tissue injuries. A 2014 study actually found that deep tissue massage helped to reduce pain in a way that researches described as being similar to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. We also know that massage therapy can be especially effective if your pain is centralized in your low-back area. Here’s how therapeutic massage helps:
- Pain relief.
- Faster healing.
- Improved flexibility.
- Decreased swelling.
- Muscle relaxation.
- Increased circulation in the injured area.
One of the best aspects of massage therapy is that it’s highly personalized and tailored for a patient’s needs. A massage therapist can alter the depth and pressure used when treating a specific injury. What’s more, a massage therapist can use real-time feedback from the patient to adjust the technique being used.
What to Expect When Seeking Massage Therapy for a Soft Tissue Injury
Your ideal treatment plan should start with a conversation. While it’s very likely that your pain is caused by a soft tissue injury, you may want to seek a full evaluation that rules out other underlying causes that could be more serious. In some cases, your soft tissue injury could be accompanied by long-term injuries or dysfunctions caused by untreated long-term injuries that can include everything from a spinal subluxation to whiplash. Your massage therapy provider should go over your full health history with you to discus any accidents, injuries or underlying conditions that could be playing roles in your current pain experience.
A physical evaluation is the second component of a massage therapy consultation. This will typically include a postural assessment to identify any “compensation” that your body is doing to account for injuries or imbalances. While most mainstream care providers don’t address the body from a holistic perspective like this, massage therapists are trained to view the body as a “whole” system that is completely interconnected. This is why massage therapists are often able to identify injuries or pain sources that are overlooked by mainstream medical providers. A movement assessment may also be done to evaluate how your body responds to different triggers.
During your actual massage experience, you can expect a range of different depths and pressures to be applied to your body. Your massage therapist will also alternate durations when applying pressure to various parts of your body. While techniques will vary based on your specific needs, you may be shifted into different positions during your massage. While it may seem obvious that a soft tissue massage would focus exclusively on the area that is in pain, the reality is that massage therapists use the interconnectedness of the body to help treat your injury point using strategic locations on your body.
Massage Is a Preventative Treatment for Soft Tissue Injuries
There’s no reason to wait to tap into the benefits of massage therapy until after you’ve already been injured. Many people use massage therapy as a preventative measure to maintain flexibility, good circulation, good posture and tissue health. In fact, many athletes incorporate therapeutic massage into their training protocols! If you’re someone who works long hours at a desk, makes repetitive movements during household chores or lifts heavy loads as part of your job, all of the proactive benefits of massage therapy are also available to you!
Book Your Therapeutic Massage to Treat a Soft Tissue Injury Today
If you’re looking for pain relief for sore muscles or strains, come to DE Integrative for a professional therapeutic massage focused on your health and wellness. We’re proud to be able to offer our patients a way to treat pain without pain medications. We’ll tailor a plan for restoring function and comfort to your body after evaluating your injury. Call today for your appointment!