Soft tissue injuries occur when your ligaments, tendons, or muscles face trauma. Often, a soft tissue injury can occur suddenly due to misbalance or uncontrolled movements, like an ankle sprain or knee sprain during sports.
Other times, it can occur gradually as a result of the overuse of a certain muscle. For instance, people involved in an occupation where they are daily required to use machines that vibrate are likely to develop a soft tissue injury due to overuse of their exhausted muscles.
Soft tissue injuries are recoverable. However, the level of symptoms and consequences of this injury depends on its severity. To make sure that the injury doesn’t give away to more complications and makes its stay longer, immediate medical and professional attention is required.
That being said, there are certain ways you can treat your soft tissue injuries at home, such as the RICE method that stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. You don’t need to be admitted to a hospital.
Below are recommended and effective ways to overcome soft tissue injury.
1.Take some rest in the beginning
Initially, your soft tissue injury will show drastic symptoms, including inflammation, maybe even bleeding, and most critically, a lot of pain. To aggravate the pain, you need to take as much rest as possible in the beginning.
Taking rest is very important in the initial phase of the injury; however, it doesn’t mean total rest. That is because total rest can delay the recovery of tissues. Rest is important for the pain to aggravate. But the recovery only begins to take place when the body is in a gently moving stage.
The movement of the body in a way that doesn’t trigger a lot of pain at once is recommended for the recovery to be as quick as possible. If the body is gentle movement, the symptoms of soft tissue injury will start vanishing in three to four days.
Applying ice to the area of the body where soft tissue injury has occurred is a known method to reduce inflammation and get quick relief from pain. It has been a core component of the RICE method – a traditional certified way to treat soft tissue injuries.
Ice therapy involves applying ice packs to the area where the injury has occurred. In most cases, it is combined with heat therapy – which involves applying ice and heat back and forth to reduce inflammation and help the blood flow.
However, ice shouldn’t be applied for extended periods; otherwise, it can interrupt the recovery process in the long term. Ice is to be applied multiple times a day; usually twice, depending on the condition, with each time ice pack being touched to the body for not more than 5 minutes. After at least three days of ice therapy, the time can go up to 20 minutes, but not more than that.
For instance, if you have sprained ankle or a twisted knee, you shouldn’t apply ice for more than 20 minutes; otherwise, it has a chance to worsen. Moreover, if you are very sensitive to ice, have poor blood circulation already, or if the ice feels too cold – making you feel numb – it is better to remove the ice pack.
3. Compression bandages
It is fairly useful to apply a compression bandage on the affected area of the body in the initial stage of the soft tissue injury. Compression bandages don’t only help prevent blood loss in the case of bleeding, but they also help reduce the swelling.
If you are using a compression bandage, it is critical to use it properly. If a compression bandage is wrapped too tightly, it can cut the blood flow, which can make the case worse.
It should be wrapped gently around the wounded area to prevent swelling and blood loss. The better option is to get an elastic compression bandage.
4. Elevate the injured area
The elevation is an important and useful method to reduce the swelling and pain in soft tissue injury. In the recovery procedure, the injured area is elevated above the level of the heart.
For example, if you have a sprained ankle, you should elevate it when sitting or lying with the help of a chair or a set of pillows. This will prevent your ankles from swelling excessively.
The expert opinion states that when the injured area is elevated, it does not let the blood flow to the elevated area and reach the injury. As a result, the injury doesn’t swell. The injured area should be elevated for around 2 to 3 hours every day until the injury is healed properly.
5. Gentle exercise
The stage where your body is almost healed and you think you are okay is the most critical stage of your treatment. Your body starts developing new tissues to aid the repair of broken tissues.
The broken tissues aren’t 100% healed and the new tissues aren’t ready for any strenuous activity. Thus, you need to be very careful with what kind of physical activity you are involving yourself in.
It is recommended that you do gentle exercise every day to gradually increase your range of motion and strengthen your tissues, but don’t indulge in any tedious tasks that trigger the pain again.
6. Physical therapy
If your soft tissue injuries are taking a long time to heal, if you don’t know what kind of exercise you need to do to increase your range of motion, or if you are struggling with getting back on your feet after the injury, we recommend you to make an urgent appointment for a physical therapy session.
Physical therapy treats your body in a way that helps with swelling, pain, inflammation, and restricted range of motion. An experienced physical therapist will also help you with other effective ways, like rest, compression, elevation, and ice therapy.
After just a couple of sessions of physical therapy, you are bound to notice the improvement. It is important that you don’t quit after the first hint of improvement, continue the sessions until you are 100% healed.