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What are soft-tissue injuries?

When many people think of car crashes, they think of large, catastrophic incidents. These accidents do happen, but they tend to be rare. Smaller accidents are much more common, and they can cause injuries that are still incredibly serious.

The most common types of injuries sustained in car accidents are soft-tissue injuries. Soft-tissue injuries are widespread among car crash victims, and yet not many people are aware of them.

Defining soft-tissue injuries

Soft-tissue injuries are injuries that affect muscle tissue, ligaments and tendons. These injuries can range from minor to severe, and they often cause pain, swelling and bruising. Depending on the location and severity of the injury, these symptoms can last from a few days to several years. There are several causes of soft-tissue injuries—aside from car accidents, they often occur because of sports injuries or repetitive stress.

What are the types of soft-tissue injuries?

The three major types of soft-tissue injuries include sprains, strains, and contusions. While these injuries all vary slightly, they are alike in that they occur when muscle tissue is exposed to trauma or stress.


Contusions are bruises that are caused by physical trauma that crushes muscle fibers and tissue. In a car accident, contusions are often caused when a vehicle makes impact with another car, guardrail or building. Although contusions are larger, darker and more painful than most bruises, they tend to be minor. Compression and ice are generally sufficient for treatment, though some cases may require more care to prevent tissue damage.


Ligaments are bands of tissue that connect one bone to another, stabilizing the body’s joints. If a ligament stretches or tears, it results in a sprain. Sprains usually occur in the wrists, knees and ankles. Car accidents of considerable force put the body at high risk for sprains. The treatment for a sprain depends on its severity. Minor sprains are usually treated with compression, elevation or ice. Severe sprains may require physical therapy or even surgery.


Strains are soft-tissue injuries that affect the muscles or tendons, usually in the foot, leg or back. Strains may involve stretching in the muscle or tendons, similar to a sprain, but they also encompass complete tears in muscles and tendons. Unlike sprains, strains sometimes cause painful muscle spasms. Strain victims are usually prescribed physical therapy along with reparative muscle exercises.

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