Soft Tissue Injuries: What They Are, What Causes Them and Why You May Want To File a Lawsuit

Soft Tissue Injury

As their name implies, soft tissue injuries are those that damage the “soft” parts of your body, such as your muscles, ligaments, tendons, nerves, skin, blood vessels and internal organs. These types of injuries invariably cause pain, often severe. They can also cause swelling and bruising around the damaged part of your body as well as loss of function.

Car accidents represent the number one cause of soft tissue injuries. This is whether you are a driver, passenger, pedestrian or bicyclist hit by a car. These types of soft tissue injuries are called acute because they occur as the result of a sudden trauma.

Other soft tissue injury causes include sports injuries, slip-and-fall accidents, on-the-job accidents, repetitive stress injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, etc. The latter types are called overuse injuries. This is because they result from repeated motions that you perform without your body having the time to recover between occurrences. Overuse injuries are progressive in nature, causing you more pain rather than less as time goes on.

Soft Tissue Injury Examples

Whiplash is perhaps the best-known type of soft tissue injury. It is the injury you sustain when an accident forces your neck to move rapidly back and forth. Other types include the following:

  • Strains and sprains to your neck, shoulders, back, elbows, wrists, knees, ankles and feet
  • Torn ligaments in your shoulders, knees and ankles
  • Contusions, i.e., bruises resulting from ruptured blood vessels
  • Myofascial pain, also known as myalgia, i.e., the aches and pain you feel when your muscles, ligaments, tendons or fascia, the soft tissues that connect your muscles, bones and organs, become damaged
  • Tenosynovitis, i.e., inflammation and swelling of your tendons
  • Herniated disc, i.e., a condition that occurs when the outer portion of one of your discs, the tissue that separates your vertebrae, becomes ruptured, allowing the inner portion to extrude through the fibers

Soft Tissue Injury Symptoms

As stated, the most obvious symptom of a soft tissue injury is that of pain. You will most likely will feel it immediately after your injury. Initially, this pain probably will be severe, perhaps enough to take your breath away. As time goes on and your body starts to heal, your pain may decrease to an ache or continued tenderness in your affected body part.

Additional symptoms may include any or all of the following:

  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Inflammation
  • Muscle spasms, cramping and weakness
  • A lump, bump or knot at your injury site
  • Decreased range of motion at, around or near your injury site
  • Inability to put weight on your injured knee, ankle or foot

Soft Tissue Injury Severity

Health care professionals determine the severity of your soft tissue injury by means of a grading system. In a Grade I injury, some of your fibers are torn and your injury site is moderately swollen. While you feel a moderate amount of pain, you do not usually suffer a decrease in function.

In a Grade II injury, a significant number of your fibers are torn. Both pain and swelling are moderate, and your functionality is compromised.

A Grade III injury is the most severe. With this injury, your soft tissues are completely torn, totally compromising your strength and functionally. Grade III injuries generally require surgery to repair the damage.

While not scientific, you yourself can often tell if and when you sustain a serious, possibly catastrophic, soft tissue injury. For instance, you may hear a “pop” or “crack”. In addition to feeling immediate severe pain, you may also experience numbness or a pins-and-needles sensation at the site of your injury. If you injured your shoulder, elbow, wrist, knee or ankle, that joint may appear deformed. You may not be able to move the affected joint. You also certainly will not be able to put any weight on a lower limb that has sustained a soft tissue injury.

Possible Auto Injury Lawsuit

These injuries form the basis of a large number of personal injury lawsuits. This is given the fact that car and other motor vehicle accidents cause the vast majority of soft tissue injuries. The problem with soft tissue injuries, however, is three-fold:

  1. They can be difficult to diagnose.
  2. They can be difficult to prove.
  3. Insurance companies take a dim view of them. They assume that the claimant is faking or at least exaggerating his or her injuries in the hope of obtaining a large settlement amount.

Nevertheless, despite these potential difficulties, you have the right to consult a personal injury attorney to discuss the possibility of suing the person whose negligence or wrongdoing caused the car accident that, in turn, caused your soft tissue injuries.

The first thing you should do after a car accident, however, is to seek immediate medical attention. You should do so even if you think your injuries likely are minor ones. Why? Because you need an expert medical opinion. In addition, the history taken, the physical examination performed, the tests undergone, the course of treatment planned, and the medications prescribed all become evidence your attorney can later use in court if you do, indeed, file a lawsuit. So do the records of any other health care professionals your doctor refers you to, such as a physical therapist, acupuncturist, etc.

Why You Need an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney

When you first consult with a lawyer, be sure to take copies of all the medical records pertaining to your soft tissue injuries. In addition, take the receipts you have showing the prescription or over-the-counter medications you bought, the dates you bought them and the amounts you paid for them. All of this documentation represents critical evidence regarding the nature and severity of your injuries that your attorney will need once he or she files a lawsuit on your behalf and begins settlement negotiations with the defendant’s insurance company. This important evidence becomes even more critical if the settlement negotiations ultimately fail and your attorney must try your case to a jury.

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