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Soft Tissue Injuries vs Hard Tissue Injuries


I take a lot of interest in how certain injuries are treated and how certain types of injuries are felt throughout the body and what is needed to remedy them and how they are healed over time. In a very broad sense, there are two types of major injuries to the body that may occur: soft tissue injuries, tissues, tendons, and ligaments, whether it be tears, strains, sprains, and soft tissue for lack of a better word flesh injuries. Comparing this to hard-tissue injuries, hard tissue injuries are injuries that occur to bones and teeth, much stronger structures are considered hard tissue, and any breaks, fractures, or dislocations can occur to hard tissue injuries.

Soft Tissue Injuries

Soft tissue injuries can oftentimes be the most dangerous and unknown injuries to the body because sometimes they can cause minimal to no pain and go unnoticed but still be incredibly dangerous. Examples of these injuries include contusions (aka bruises), sprains, tendonitis, bursitis, stress injuries (tears), and stress fractures1. All of these injuries more often than not occur due to strenuous exercise and sometimes can seem like a small pull or strain when it is much more severe. Soft tissue injuries can range from a pulled hamstring to a torn ACL or knee, meaning they have a very high range of severity. When diagnosing or trying to figure out whether there is a soft tissue injury, doctors generally perform a physical examination to determine the presence of a soft tissue injury (unless there is already significant muscle pain with the minimal movement then no extra exam is needed if there is visible pain). To detect the severity, an MRI or CT scan2 is best to see whether the injury is just a strain or a tear of an important muscle or ligament. Soft tissue injuries are really tough because it takes plenty of rehabs to come back from to not only get that soft tissue back to form but also to develop that normal muscle memory in that body part again

Hard Tissue Injuries

Hard Tissue injuries are quite different from soft tissue injuries. These injuries occur to the more rigid structures of the body such as the skeletal structure, teeth, jaw, etc. These injuries have a much smaller spectrum of severity in regards to type, either being fractures or dislocations, however, injuries to certain parts of the body are more severe than others. For example, a dislocated finger can be remedied much quicker and is a smaller injury than that of a dislocated shoulder because the shoulder sees more stress on muscles and arteries due to a dislocation compared to a finger or a smaller body part4. Hard tissue injuries can also be fractures and there are a few types of fractures: close and open fractures, oblique fractures, and avulsion factors among others. Open fractures see the bone break to the point where it penetrates the skin and protrudes outward to form an open wound, closed fractures see a break in the bone that does not form an open wound. Open fractures are generally the worst type because the initial pain and the wound formed takes more time to heal compared to just an internal break in a closed fracture. Avulsion fractures are when a ligament or tendon attaches to a bone improperly and causes an internal break in the bone and these happen to more growing children because tendons may latch themselves to growth plates in growing kids. Oblique fractures are those that result in a diagonal break along the long side of the bone where the break may be a curve or a straight line5. No matter the type of break, however, the diagnosis and treatment are the same. Generally, a lack of movement and pain combined with possible numbness can indicate some sort of break or dislocation. Such suspicion is confirmed through the use of a physical examination or X-ray and once a hard-tissue injury is diagnosed, a cast, splint, or any encasing that limits the movement of the hurt body part are prescribed and are worn for weeks maybe months at a time.

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