What are soft tissue injuries and what are some examples?

Soft tissue injuries can come from every day activities and result in damage to your tendons, ligaments, and muscles.  A soft tissue injury could result from one episode, such as a sudden fall, trip, slip or blow to the body.  Soft Tissue injuries can also result from prolonged overuse, such as in manual labor.

Soft tissue injuries are common in all workplaces, from offices to factories.  Some soft tissue injuries can heal from rest and stretching.  Many are more serious, however, and require surgery and/or various forms of rehabilitation.


Some of the most common soft tissue injuries include:

1)    Sprains: the stretching or tearing of ligaments, are a common soft tissue injury that can result from sudden twists or falls. Sprains can usually be treated similarly with rest, ice, compression and elevation of the injured area. The most severe sprains could result in surgery to repair torn ligaments.

2)    Strains: the stretching or tearing of tendons or muscles. Strains range from slight stretching of the tendon or muscle to partial and complete tearing of the soft tissue. Like sprains, strains can usually be treated with rest, ice, compression and elevation of the injured area. The most severe strains could result in surgery to repair torn tendons.

3)    Contusions: bruises caused by a blow to a muscle, tendon or ligament. While most cases of contusions are mild, if symptoms persist, a contusion could cause permanent damage to soft tissues.

4)    Tendonitis: an inflammation of a tendon or the covering of a tendon, and it is usually accompanied by swelling, heat, redness, and pain. Persistent inflammation may cause damage to the tendon that could require surgical correction.

5)    Bursitis: occurs when swelling and irritation to the soft tissue occurs from repeated small stresses and overuse. Often bursitis is experienced in association with tendonitis.

6)    Tears: tearing of the soft tissue such as ligaments, tendons, or muscles. Repetitive stress causes micro-tears to the tissue and over a period of time will sum up to a greater tear. This usually results in swelling and pain, and if not treated immediately, can result in a large tear that could require surgery.

7)    Cellulitis: an infection of the skin and soft tissue of the skin. The infection is usually caused by bacteria, such as staphylococci (“Staph”) or streptococci (“Strep”) that are commonly present on the skin or mucus membranes of the nose or mouth of otherwise normal and healthy people. The infection develops when there is a break in the skin, such as a wound or injury, which may be minor. This allows bacteria to enter the skin and grow, causing infection and swelling.

8)    Lacerations: an injury that results in an open wound of the skin or soft tissues inside the mouth. Characterized as an irregular shaped wound, lacerations are typically caused by a blunt force. Treatment may vary depending on the location, but generally includes: examination of the area, cleaning of the wound with either an antiseptic solution or saline solution, and closing the laceration with either silk or gut sutures.

9)    Tenosynovitis: an inflammation of a sheath covering a tendon. A crepitus, or grinding feeling, may be present in addition to pain with movement.

10) Stress Factures: great examples of an overuse injury. Repetitive stress causes micro-tears to the tissue and over a period of time, if not treated immediately, can result in a stress fracture.


Soft tissue injuries often linger, especially when they were caused by the workplace.  If they are repetitive in nature, it can be a little harder to pinpoint cause.  For both reasons, seriously consider a workers’ comp attorney when contemplating soft tissue workplace injuries.

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