Ligaments, tendons and muscles are referred to as soft-tissues. Sometimes they become injured or strained due to a lot of force being put on them, sudden movement or some kind of repeated overuse activity. Soft-tissue injuries like, sprains and strains can be frustrating, extremely painful and hard to shake off sometimes.
Healthcare professionals and physiotherapists grade soft-tissue injuries based on their severity and accordingly prepare tissue injury treatment plans. The grades are:
- Grade 1 – Describes mild strain, sprain or tear. These injuries present tenderness and swelling. However, they promptly heal within two to three weeks with a bit of care at home.
- Grade 2 – Used to describe more extensive damage and there might be a lot more soft-tissue involved. The injuries can take about four to twelve weeks to heal and you may have to consult a physical therapist.
- Grade 3 – Used to describe complete tear or rupture of the soft-tissues, which may be accompanied by a bone break. Such injuries need urgent medical attention and X-rays. Surgery might also be a solution followed by physiotherapy.
Most common soft-tissue injuries belong to Grade 1 and 2. For instance, muscle strain in the back is a condition caused by force, overuse or stretching. Sprains are also quite common where there is a partial tear to a ligament. You can experience ankle, wrist or knee sprain as a result of sudden turning, twisting or rolling movements.
So, if you are in pain due to a soft-tissue injury and want to know how to treat a muscle sprain or strain, keep reading.
- Protect the area from further damage – The first step to treating a sprain or strain is to avoid activities that can increase pain. You have to protect the injured area from more damage. However, complete rest is not advised as that can delay the repair. You can move your injured part a little, but not in the direction that can cause sharp pain. For example, if you twisted your wrist, do not twist it in the same direction.
- Elevate and support the injured area – You need to support the affected area and keep it higher. For instance, if you have an injured ankle, you can slip a pillow under it so that it is higher than your knee. This is going to prevent excessive swelling.
- Ice the injured area – For pain relief, you can ice the affected area. You can wrap frozen peas, crushed ice or a chill pack in a damp and clean tea-towel and place it over the injured area. Leave it there for five minutes and repeat this every 2 hours for severe or acute injuries.
- Compression – During the early stages of a soft-tissue injury, a lot of people recommend compression bandage as a treatment for a sprain. This helps to support the affected area and prevent further damage.
Whilst minor soft-tissue injuries can be treated at home, you must seek professional help for acute injuries. To rehabilitate the injured area fully, you may need to undergo physiotherapy.