Understanding Soft Tissue Damage from Automobile Accidents
What is Soft Tissue Damage or STIs?
The general definition of Soft Tissue Damage (STI) includes any form of injury or damage to muscle tissue, ligaments or tendons. STIs come in a variety of forms including sprains, strains, contusions and whiplash. Common symptoms of Soft Tissue Damage range from bruising and swelling to loss of motion and severe pain.
Soft Tissue injuries are the most common issue after an auto accident. At some point in your life you will more than likely experience a soft tissue injury. However, these injuries are not just caused by car accidents, they can be also caused by:
- Other types of accidents (planes, trains)
- Blunt force trauma
These injuries are to the muscles, tendons and ligaments, hence soft tissue. Our focus is on soft tissue injuries caused from car accidents. However, blunt force trauma can come from car wrecks. Blunt force trauma could be from you getting tossed about in your car after you were hit.
Soft Tissue Injuries after a car accident include:
- contusions (bruises)
Car accident soft tissue involving sprains
After a car accident, you may sustain a number of sprain type injuries. Oftentimes, these injuries occur when a muscle or ligament is twisted or pushed beyond natural limits. Soft Tissue Damage can happen anywhere in the body including the back, legs, arms or neck.
Strains and STIs
A strain or sprain is an injury to the muscle or tendon. These types of injuries can be caused from a car accident, repetitive motion or sports related incident. Strains are oftentimes caused by overuse, stretching or sudden force. Where overuse and stretching may stem more from sports, force and muscle trauma would be more consistent with a car accident injury.
Tendonitis and STIs
Tendonitis is commonly related to the irritation or inflammation of a tendon. It is usually caused from repetitive motion such as sports type injuries. In an auto accident, tendon injuries generally involve sudden and direct force or stretching of the area. Tendon injuries can take days to fully feel as the body naturally swells to protect the damage area. Swelling is the body’s natural way to immobilize the area and control pain.
Contusions and STIs
Contusions or bruises are caused from the direct impact of a blunt force or object. This would also include the force of your body striking a fixed object in your car such as the steering wheel or seat belt. Contusions or bruising is oftentimes noticeable, and it could be very beneficial to take pictures of the injured area.
A contusion could be nothing more than a bruise, or it could be damage to muscle fibers beneath the skin. They are usually treated with the RICE Formula (rest, ice, compression, elevation). If you wish to try an at home remedy for bruising, go here and read these steps how.
To understand this kind of car accident injury, let’s define a bursa. A bursa is a sac filled with fluid. It is the cushion or shock absorber between tendons, joints, and muscles. Bursitis is the tearing, swelling or irritation of this fluid sack. Bursitis related soft tissue injuries are generally located in the shoulder, knee, elbow and hip.
Unlike broken bones, Soft Tissue Injuries are not easy to identify and prove with documentation. You can use X-Rays or MRI to take clear images of broken bones or fractures, whereas Soft Tissue Damage can only be identified using hands on treatment. This is why it is very important to document your Soft Tissue Injuries as soon as possible.
Whiplash is the most common soft tissue injury after being struck in the rear. It is also the most talked about injury from car wrecks. Furthermore, because it is a soft tissue injury, it does not show up on XRAYS, and MRI may be necessary to prove this type of injury.
Treatment for a soft tissue injury
You may have physical therapy to restore function. However, the most common treatment for these injuries is chiropractic care. Chiropractic care has been proven to very effective for soft tissue injuries. It’s possible that you may need to have a MRI performed to see the extent of the injury. It’s a very common practice in the personal injury field to have an MRI done. This not only helps your Auto injury doctor, but it helps your attorney as well.
Effective at Home treatment
It’s very simple, rest. Take a break from whatever is hurting you. Prop that hurt knee up. Take it easy and give whatever is hurting you a break for a while.
Ice helps with the swelling associated with soft tissue injuries. Use it in 20 min intervals, several times a day on the affected area. Buy an ice pack, do not put ice directly on your skin or use a ziplock bag. Use something that was designed exactly for this purpose. Do not submerge your ankle into a cooler of ice.
You can pick up a compression bandage from any walmart or drug store. A compression bandage will help with swelling and prevent blood loss from the affected area. And, it will also stabilize the affected area and give it some external strength. Examples would be on your knee, ankle or elbow.
Lift that limb above your heart. This can help with swelling and other issues. When you lift your leg above your heart you are helping the blood circulate better. Gravity is not being your friend in this instance. The fluid that is causing the swelling will be reduced by elevating the limb as well.
Some Auto Accident Soft Tissue Injuries may never fully heal
Don’t just assume that your headache or neck stiffness will simply go away in a couple days. It’s good to give the body time to heal; however, proper treatment of soft tissue injuries is necessary. Additionally, some STIs can create scar tissue that can remain with you for the rest of your life.
It is very important to get the proper medical and legal help so that you can avoid these nightmares. Insurance companies may question the need for Chiropractic Care and Physical Therapy for Soft Tissue Injuries. Make sure that you do not miss appointments for your STI treatment. Furthermore, delayed treatment and gaps in treatment gives the insurance company reason to question your medical claim.
Chiropractors have long been recognized as soft tissue injury experts. They deal in traumatic muscle injuries and chronic pain from auto accidents and personal injury. Together with Physical Therapy, Chiropractic Care can help reduce pain and encourage healing for STI injuries.
It is important to know your rights after a serious Automobile Accident. Furthermore, when you’re injured in an automobile accident, these problems can become permanent over time. There’s no such thing as a simple” fender bender” when it comes to your health.
A visit to the ER does not cure everything!
After an Auto Accident, you have the option of going to the emergency room by ambulance or on your own sometime in the future. The emergency room is there to evaluate you for life-threatening injuries such as broken bones, traumatic brain injury, concussion or internal bleeding. However, in many cases you will be given a prescription and sent home to heal. You will also be instructed to follow up with an Accident Doctor within a few weeks if you are still having any symptoms.
Do not take this recommendation lightly! Over 80% of the soft tissue injuries that occur from the vehicle accidents can have long-lasting effects. These can be in the form of scar tissue and chronic pain.