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Why Are Soft Tissue Injuries So Varied Compared to Hard Tissue Injuries

Asides from my interest in biological structures and in medicine, something that captures my interest is sports and more specifically basketball. For that reason, I was watching a crucial playoff game, and one of the teams' best players in the Brooklyn Nets in James Harden has been toughing it out with a hamstring injury and does not look like his superstar self. Watching him labor with that hamstring got me thinking about the variability of muscular and soft tissue injuries because soft tissue injuries can take anywhere from 1 week to months to get back to full health even for the same body part. Compare that to any bone bruise or break and based on the area there are generally strict timetables based on severity.

Why Soft Tissue Varies So Much

Soft tissue injuries can generally vary in regards to the timetable based on the grade of injury and the area. By grade, I mean more severity that is observed along with the body part. For example, if it were an ACL (also known as Anterior Cruciate Ligament) then it is basically between a sprain or a tear, there is not much variability to be had. If it is any sort of major ligament tear such as the ACL, MCL, Achilles (ligament on the heel) then those definitely do take a lot of time but more variability comes with larger muscles.

When I say larger muscles, I mean things such as the hamstring, groin, calves, and quadriceps that can span longer parts of limbs. Now when assessing these injuries, they operate on a grade scale, going up in severity from grade 1-3. Grade 1 is a pulled muscle, generally speaking, it is something where there might be a nagging pain but even that is mild and will wear off through motion probably in a couple of days but is not serious. Grade 2 is a sprain or hyperextension-type injury that will probably take a couple of weeks to be feeling normal while Grade 3 is the most severe which is generally a tear or rupture, generally takes months of casting and rehab to get the muscle back to normal.

However, with every grade of these injuries, the conundrum with soft tissue injuries is that once any injury happens to these muscles, especially when you get into grade 2 or grade 3 where there is a more severe injury and the body has to go back to healing itself again and with a larger muscle like that it is more prone and more unpredictable as to whether the injury will resurface or get even worse


That brings me back to my final point. Hard tissue injuries with bones have a strict timetable because the skeletal structure is a rigid structure that once broken is hard to break again. Comparing that to the likes of larger muscles and larger muscular injuries, they have much more variability because they are more malleable and are more susceptible to injury which is why once one has a grade 2 injury it could still take weeks because there need to be double and triple checks on the muscle.

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