If you’re hurt in a car crash, there are a number of injuries you could be diagnosed with. Soft tissue injuries are among the most common – especially in minor to moderate accidents. While some people may think soft tissue injuries aren’t a big deal because they aren’t visible and typically don’t require serious medical intervention, this is not the case. Without the proper diagnosis and treatment, the injury could worsen and have debilitating consequences.
If you sustained injuries in an auto accident, seeking medical attention is the best way to ensure you recover as quickly as possible. If you think you have a soft tissue injury, you may be wondering what they are and how they happen, what the symptoms are, and how they’re treated.
Why Are the Common Types of Soft Tissue Injuries?
Soft tissue injures happen when the muscles ligaments, or tendons in the body are damaged. While they can happen as a result of overuse, they can also occur from sudden trauma, like car accidents. This is referred to as an acute injury. With these injuries, pain, swelling, bruising, and loss of function are possible. A person’s range of motion can be significantly affected. The most common types of soft tissue injuries are sprains, strains, contusions, and whiplash.
This is a stretch or tear of a ligament. A ligament is a strong band of connective tissue that fastens the end of one bone to another. When a ligament tears or stretches too far, the body’s joints won’t be properly stabilized or supported. The areas of the body that are most susceptible to sprains are ankles, knees, and wrists. A driver’s wrists or ankles could be sprained because of their proximity to the steering wheel and pedals.
There are three grades of sprains. Grade 1, which is mild, happens when there is light stretching and some damage to the ligament fibers. Grade 2, which is moderate, is a partial tearing of a ligament. The injured person may experience abnormal looseness in their joint when moving it in different directions. A Grade 3 sprain, which is severe, is a complete tear of the ligament. The joint will be nonfunctional.
A strain is an injury to a muscle or tendon. Tendons attach muscles to bones. Typically, strains occur in feet, legs, and the back. Similar to a sprain, a strain can result from a stretch or a partial or complete tear. Pain, muscles spams, weakness, swelling, cramping, and inflammation are possible.
A contusion is the medical name for a bruise. They are caused by direct or repeated blows. The underlying muscle fibers and connective tissues are crushed, without breaking the skin. The discoloration associated with contusions is caused by blood pooling around the injury. Car occupants are vulnerable to contusions in an accident if they make contact with the inside of the car in any way.
Whiplash happens when the head and neck are forced to move back and forth violently. The medical term for this condition is a cervical strain/sprain or hyperextension injury. Sufferers often experience neck stiffness, sharp neck pain, back problems, and cognitive issues. In some cases, it can take days for the symptoms to present. Depending on the severity of the whiplash, it could take weeks or months to go away.
Why Are Soft Tissue Injuries Dangerous?
Soft tissue injuries are dangerous because they’re not always treated like they should be. If someone believes they have a sprained ankle, they may go to the pharmacy and pick up a compression wrap or foot sleeve. Without a proper diagnosis, it’s impossible to ensure the way you’re treating an injury is correct.
When soft tissue injuries go undiagnosed and untreated, the injuries could get worse. As time passes, the damage could be debilitating and require serious intervention, like surgery. It’s better to have an injury examined when it happens, then to have to deal with more invasive treatments later.
How Are Soft Tissue Injuries Treated?
Minor to moderate soft tissue injuries are typically treated with the “R.I.C.E” method. This stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Your doctor will inform you of the best way to treat your specific injury. You may be told to avoid overexerting the injured body part, use cold packs for a specific amount of time, apply gentle compression to avoid swelling, and elevate the injury higher than your heart. More severe injuries may require immobilization and physical therapy.
Soft tissue injuries, even minor ones, can result in extensive medical bills. If you believe your car accident was the result of another party’s negligence, there are legal actions you can take to hold them accountable. When you work with our lawyers to file your personal injury claim, we’ll work to ensure you receive the compensation you need to cover your incurred losses. While you focus on your recovery, we’ll handle the difficult negotiations. To learn more about the benefits of working with a lawyer after being in a car crash, contact our office today.