Soft tissue refers to the tissues that connect, support or surround the other structures within the foot region.

Soft tissue includes muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia, nerves, fibrous tissues, fat, and blood vessels.

Whenever a soft tissue injury occurs it generally involves one or more of the following structures via a sprain, strain or direct blow.

  • Muscle – this is the fibre that shortens and lengthens to produce movement in the joints.
  • Tendon – this is the slightly elastic connective tissue that connects the muscle to the bone.
  • Ligament – this is a strong band of inelastic connective tissue that connects bone to bone.

There are a range of soft tissue injuries, the most common being:

  • Bruising – this occurs when a direct force is applied to an area of the body that results in compression and bleeding into the soft tissue.
  • Sprain – this will happen when a joint is forced beyond its normal range of motion, resulting in overstretching and tearing of the ligament that supports the joint. The indicators of a sprain include swelling, the loss of ability to place weight on the affected area, discolouration and bruising, and the sudden onset of sharp pain.
  • Strain – this is most often caused by muscles overstretching or contracting too quickly, resulting in a partial or complete tear of the muscle and tendon fibres. Clear signs of a strain will be swelling, discolouration with bruising, and pain with movement.

With any soft tissue injury, the most effective way to enhance recovery is to immediately engage the RICE protocol – Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Following this procedure over a 48 -72 hour period will assist to reduce bleeding and potential damage within the joint.

To support these steps the NO HARM protocol is also recommended – no heat, no alcohol, no running or activity and no massage. By adopting these recommendations, you can decrease the swelling and bleeding in the affected area.

In most circumstances you could expect full recovery from most soft tissue injuries within one to six weeks. In some cases it may be beneficial to seek the advice of a podiatrist when the injury is foot or ankle related and when recovery is slow.

Contact Bentley Podiatry today for more information.