Pain Management for Soft Tissue Injuries
What is a soft tissue injury? Good question. If you are having trouble trying to reach for that cookie jar from the very top shelf or while engaging in some very amusing muscle-flexing (...just for the sake of it), you’ve probably injured a soft tissue somewhere.
A soft tissue constitutes any muscles, tendons, or ligaments that surround other organs in the body and differs from a hard tissue such as the bone. These are essentially the prime movers or functional elements of your body. Injuring a soft tissue means compromising your normal body movements.
How does a soft tissue injury (STI) occur? STI is commonly termed as a repetitive injury and as the name suggests, typically manifests itself during the simplest of workouts due to repeated thrust on a particular muscle or tendon. From this, you must have already inferred that this type of injury needn’t arise from a sudden blunt force. STI occurs when muscles are made to work under a continuous low load without any significant breaks; in a sense, your muscles are under continuous wear and tear simply through repeated movements until the tissues break down completely. Typical symptoms include unable to apply any weight over the affected area, bones surrounding the region feel painful, inflammation or some kind or deformity of the injured region, or even numbness or tingling at the point of injury.
STI may also develop as a result of bad posture or faulty movements over a period of time. A worst-case scenario is when your seemingly acute and harmless injuries aggravate to become chronic. Cumulative injuries such as these result in sprains or fractures and must be treated with the utmost care. So how does one combat STI? Well, as a first step, stop all your active workouts and give your body a rest. Your body needs time to heal and recover. Apply the traditional RICE protocol for treating basic injuries, which is: rest, ice, compression, and elevation to reduce the inflammation. This treatment can be administered as a first step, until the pain subsides a little.
Based on the severity, this injury is graded from mild to severe; where the rupturing of the muscle or ligament is no more that 10%, it is considered mild. A severely damaged tissue will take time to heal, usually requiring regular physiotherapy exercises to reduce the inflammation and improve flexibility.
Most people recover from soft tissue injuries within 3 to 4 weeks with adequate rest. If you are not feeling too confident about your situation, it is imperative that you consult a medical practitioner. Home remedies are no substitute for proper medical treatment and must be only considered as one of the preliminary measures. A physical therapist will provide you with the right recovery plan and also educate you about faulty motor movements. Physiotherapy exercises and treatment involving foam roller exercises and stretches will elongate your prime mover muscles and ensure optimal mobility.
Start with a few basic physiotherapy exercises with dynamic stretching and gradually build your resistance with more aggressive workouts. The important thing to remember is you can prevent the big injuries with effective pain management techniques and continue your fitness routine for a lifetime if you learn to take care of the small injuries on time.