31/01/2022 / Health and Fitness

6 Types of Soft Tissue Injuries and their Treatment

6 different types of soft tissue injuries and how to treat them. Injuries in soft tissues is common and thus it’s important to know about the treatment.

6 Types of Soft Tissue Injuries and their Treatment
Keerthana A PKeerthana A P
Keerthana A P
Food Technologist, Engineer & Research Associate
Medically Cited
Fact Checked

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Have you ever had that pinching pain followed by swelling, bruises and stiffness? Or sometimes had your muscle torn by strenuous workouts? Well, these are some types of common soft tissue injuries that occur to our skin, muscles, tendons and ligaments. Most of the soft tissue injuries can be treated at home with some basic soft tissue injury treatments. These are called ‘soft’ because there are no fractures to the hard tissue (bone) or any injuries to the internal organs like the heart, lungs or liver. If you are trying to understand soft tissue injuries, then you’re in the right place.  Dive into here to deal with your soft tissue injuries!

What are the types of soft tissue injuries?

There are many instances of us running into the soft tissue injuries of muscles, tendons or ligaments while at sports or while bending with improper postures. Depending on the type of impact and intensity, there are several types of soft tissue injuries. There are generally two basic types of soft tissue injuries – acute soft tissue injuries and overuse soft tissue injuries. 

  1. Acute soft tissue injuries – Any soft tissue injury that occurs due to sudden trauma such as a fall, twist or blow is called acute soft tissue injury. They are called so because they occur almost in an instance. Few acute types of soft tissue injuries are sprains, strains, contusions etc., 

  2. Overuse soft tissue injuries – These types of soft tissue injuries occur when we exert our body more than it’s a breaking point. Here, the soft tissue injuries are due to constantly repeated impact with less recovery time. Some of the overuse types of soft tissue injuries are bursitis, tendonitis, etc.,  

What are the common soft tissue injury symptoms?

Depending on the type of soft tissue injury, there are symptoms associated with it. 

  1. A lump on or  around the site of the injury

  2. Inability to put weight on the area, instability of the affected joint, 

  3. Muscle cramping or weakness

  4. Swelling or bruising

These are some of the common soft injury symptoms caused by some acute or overuse soft tissue injuries. These are just common soft tissue injury symptoms and specific symptoms are discussed with details below. 

6 common soft tissue injuries

From the types of soft tissue injuries discussed above, there are a few common soft tissue injuries such as bursitis, sprains, tendonitis, contusions, stress injuries and strains. They all occur due to the traumas of soft tissues and manifest as different sets of symptoms like pain, swelling, discolouration or bruising.

Types of Soft Tissue Injuries and their Treatment

1. Bursitis

Bursitis is one of the most common soft tissue injuries and it affects the fluid-filled sacs called bursae found around the joints. The lubrication provided by bursae helps in reducing friction during joint movements. Inflammation of these sacs leads to bursitis. Inflammation can arise due to repetitive motion and overuse. Soft tissues of the hips, elbows, and shoulders are more prone to this injury and physical therapy will help in full recovery in these types of common soft tissue injuries.

Symptoms of Bursitis

  • Pain and stiffness in affected joints.

  • Pain on the pressure in joints.

  • Swelling or redness around joints.

Risk factors of Bursitis

  • Bursitis is very common in aged people so the chances of getting bursitis are directly proportional to age.

  • Medical conditions like obesity, gout, rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes increase the risk of getting bursitis. 

  • Continuous and repeated movements like gardening, painting, playing musical instruments etc., can put enough strain on joints to cause bursitis. 

Prevention of Bursitis

  • Exercising can improve the resilience of your joints.

  • Maintaining a healthy weight can reduce pressure on your joints.

  • Using products like kneeling pads can protect bursae in works that require kneeling. 

When to see a doctor?

  • Joint pain disables movements.

  • Excessive swelling or bruising. 

  • Shooting pain when we exert or exercise.

  • The rise in body temperature.

2. Sprains


Sprains are a very common soft tissue injury. It occurs when there is a partial tear to any ligament found around the ankles, knees, or wrists region. Physical therapy and medication help this condition even though it should be treated with the utmost care and precision since this ligament tissue intersects between two bones.

Symptoms of Sprains

  • Pain, swelling or bruising in the affected area.

  • Hearing a ‘pop’ sound at the time of injury.

Risk factors of Sprains

  • Slippery or uneven surfaces can increase the probability of getting sprains. 

  • Ill fitted sportswear and footwears also do their part in causing injuries. 

Prevention of Sprains

  • Avoid poorly-fitting outfits that can cause injuries.

  • Doing conditioning and stabilizing exercises that can increase resilience under proper resilience.

When to see a doctor

  • Inability to move or bear weight in affected joints.

  • Have pain over the bones of the injured joint.

  • The feeling of numbness in the injured area 

3. Tendinitis

Tendons are flexible tissues that connect the muscle to the bone and are often found in shoulders, wrists, elbows, wrists, ankle, knees, and elbows. The inflammation of these fibrous cords leads to tendonitis. Repetitive motions and overuse regularly lead to tendonitis. Physical therapy along with necessary anti-inflammatory medicines will help in recovery. Tendonitis is the type of common soft tissue injury that mostly occurs during sports-related activities and due to that, they have earned additional names like golfer’s elbow, swimmer’s shoulders or jumper’s knee. A popular Indian cricketer Ashwin Ravichandran revealed that he almost wanted to retire in 2018 when he suffered patellar tendonitis. 

Symptoms of Sprains 

  • Dull ache when moving the affected joints

  • Tenderness or mild swelling in the injured region. 

Risk factors of Sprains

  • Sports like baseball, basketball, golf, sprinting and swimming can increase the risks of getting tendonitis. 

  • Movements that are repetitive or forceful can also cause the inflammation of tendons.

Prevention of Sprains

  • Use recommended ergonomics in your workplace which can reduce the stress on your joints.

  • Strengthening muscles through work can build resilience against traumas. 

When to see a doctor?

Most cases of tendonitis can be cured with self-care measures but if the symptoms persist, it is better to consult a doctor. 

4. Contusions (Bruises)

Contusions are another type of common soft tissue injury which is also called ‘bruises’. Any significant injury to a ligament, tendon, or bone can be considered a contusion. It leaves a bruise or a lump in the injured area with discoloured skin. Simple physical therapy techniques and the use of ice packs will help in healing.

Symptoms of Bruises

  • Discolouration of skin to purple, blue or yellow. 

  • Pain or swelling in the affected area. 

Risk factors of Bruises

  • Take blood thinners like aspirin. 

  • Blood clotting problems in people can increase the risk. 

  • Sports that involve high exertion. 

Prevention of Bruises

  • Take precautionary measures to avoid unintentional falls.

  • Check on your eyesight as your age increases and be cautious while walking/running.

When to see a doctor?

  • Experiencing pain for more than three days for a seemingly minor injury.

  • Formation of the lump (hematoma) over the bruise.  

  • A black eye with poor vision

5. Anterior Cruciate Ligament injuries (ACL) 

Anterior Cruciate Ligament is a common soft tissue injury that affects the ligament found near the knee. This ligament is primary in aiding mobility of the joint. Sudden changes in the direction of movement, abruptly stopping any activity involving knees, or a direct hit to the knee area can lead to an ACL injury. Minor injuries can be treated immediately with physical therapy or medications although further discomfort should be addressed and requires surgical treatment. These types of soft tissue injuries are most prevalent in women than in men due to their anatomy. 

Symptoms of ACL

  • Pain or swelling in the affected area.

  • Tenderness in the joint line.

  • Discomfort while making movements.

Risk factors of ACL 

  • Sports like football, basketball and skiing increase the risk of getting an ACL.

  • Females are highly susceptible to ACL due to their anatomy and muscle strength.

Prevention of ACL 

Strengthening exercises for the whole body can play a major role in increasing muscle strength. 

When to see a doctor?

Immediate medical attention is required for any ACL symptoms to the knee as they are a combination of bones, ligaments and other tissues. 

6. Concussions

A concussion is a common soft tissue injury that occurs when soft tissues in the brain are injured. Even if considered as a temporary injury it affects one’s concentration, memory, balance, and coordination. These types of soft tissue injuries even have the potential to permanently disrupt brain functions. Depending on the severity of the condition, painkillers will be prescribed, and if the body is unresponsive to the medication surgical treatments might be required.

Symptoms of concussions

  • Excessive fatigue or drowsiness.

  • Feelings of nausea and vomiting. 

  • Experiencing poor and blurry vision.

Risk factors of concussions 

  • Participating in high-risk sports.

  • Being a victim of accidents or unintentional falling.

Prevention of concussions

  • Wearing protective gear during sports and wearing seat belts while driving.

  • Constructing safe infrastructure which would avoid trips and falls.

When to see a doctor?

  • Experiencing repeated vomiting and nausea.

  • Having a vision or eye disturbances.

  • Hearing ringing in ears or having a severe headache that gets worse with time.

2 Most common soft tissue injury treatments

The soft tissue injury treatments differ based on the symptoms manifested by the injury. Immediate soft tissue injury treatments within 72 hours can help reduce the severity of the injury. RICER and NO HARM are the two treatments commonly used for soft tissue injuries. 

What are the common soft tissue injury treatments

1. RICER Method

The RICER stands for rest, ice, compression, elevation, and referral and helps with any bleeding and immediate damage. The RICER soft tissue injury treatment method is a viable strategy utilized in the underlying treatment of soft tissue injury. This method is most commonly used in soft tissue injury treatment. RICE method is first aid for any soft tissue injury treatment before consulting with the doctors. Using the RICE method reduces the swelling or bleeding in the affected location and ensures a safe relocation to the hospitals. 


The first step to any soft tissue injury treatment is to rest. A reprieve from physical activity is prescribed to give the injury time to mend. Movements can aggravate the bleeding and also negatively affect the healing process.


Wrap some ice in the cloth and give gentle presses to the affected site. The compresses can be given for 20-minute spans and repeated cycles for up to 72 hours. 


The next step in soft tissue injury treatment is to bandage the injured site. Bandaging restricts the movements and also reduces any possible bleeding. 


After bandaging your injury, elevate your affected limb above the heart level. Elevating the injury over your heart while you are resting will help in the decrease of swelling. 


The final step in soft tissue injury treatment is to consult a doctor. This can be optional based on the severity of the injury. But other steps need to the followed for better pain management and recovery.

2. No HARM Treatment

No HARM treatment is another effective soft tissue injury treatment. It requires the person to say no to heat, alcohol, running, and massage to treat the injuries. These immediate treatments will be only effective when coupled with proper medication for a full recovery. It ought to be utilized within the initial 48–72 hours (contingent upon seriousness) after the injury to accelerate the recuperation cycle. No HARM treatment is a soft tissue injury treatment that prevents further severity of the injuries. 

(No) Heat

It is always better to keep the heat away from our injuries. Applying warmth to the harmed zone can cause bleeding and swelling.

(No) Alcohol

Alcohol can hinder your capacity to feel if your physical issue is getting more exasperated, increase in bleeding, and swelling. Hence, soft tissue injury treatments require abstaining from alcohol.  

(No) Re-injury

Workouts can always strengthen our muscles but not at the time of sprains or strains. Avoid any exercises that could irritate the injury and bring on additional harm. 

(No) Massage

Many people still have the misconception that massage can reduce swelling but in reality, it only aggravates it. Massaging a harmed region can avoid more bleeding and swelling, and eventually accomplish more harm whenever done too soon.

Word of Wisdom

For a more extreme soft tissue injury, a brief assessment by an orthopaedist or sports injury therapist is suggested. Kindly go through the listed common soft tissue injury symptoms that require physician’s care. Because some types of soft tissue injuries may require surgeries. Some medical procedures can be performed arthroscopically; intrusive methodology or small incisions are made to repair the damage. So, soft tissue injury treatments differ based on the severity and intensity of soft tissue injuries. On many occasions, these methods are genuinely speedy and don’t need a short-term emergency clinic stay.


FAQ on Soft Tissue Injuries and their Treatment

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