Soft tissue injuries

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What are soft tissue injuries?

Soft tissue injuries are injuries related to the soft tissues of the body such as muscle, tendon, ligament and nerve. Sprains, strains, contusions, tendinitis, bursitis and stress injuries are the most common soft tissue injuries.

These types of injuries often occur in sports injuries but can also happen due to repetitive use or falls.


A sprain is a stretch and/or tear of a ligament. The areas of the body which are most vulnerable to sprains are ankles, knees, and wrists. Treatment for sprains varies depending on the severity but includes RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation), physiotherapy, bracing and surgery to repair torn ligaments.


A strain is an injury to a muscle and/or tendon and often occurs in the foot, leg (especially the hamstring) or back. Treatment is the same as a sprain. Surgery may be required for a more serious tear.


A contusion is a bruise caused by a direct blow or repeated blows, crushing underlying muscle fibres and connective tissue without breaking the skin. Most contusions are mild and respond to RICE. If symptoms persist, medical care is required to prevent permanent damage to the soft tissues.


Tendinitis is an inflammation or irritation of a tendon or the covering of a tendon (a sheath). It is caused by a succession of small stresses that repeatedly aggravate the tendon. Treatment includes rest, anti-inflammatory medication, steroid injections, splinting and exercises to correct muscle imbalance and improve flexibility. Persistent inflammation may cause substantial damage to the tendon, which may require surgery.


Bursitis is inflammation of the bursa which is a small, jelly-like sac located throughout the body, including around the shoulder, elbow, hip, knee, and heel. The bursa contains a small amount of fluid, and is positioned between bones and soft tissues, acting as a cushion to help reduce friction. Treatment includes anti-inflammatory medication or a corticosteroid (cortisone) injection to remove the fluid from the bursa. Surgery is usually not necessary.