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Types of Soft Tissue Injury From Auto Accidents

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Even a small car accident can trigger various injuries. Motor vehicle accident victims must let a medical professional look them over for delayed injuries and delayed symptoms. Accident Help Zone can help car crash victims find medical professionals experienced in treating post-accident soft tissue injuries.

To help you know if you need help from a car accident doctor, here are some common soft tissue injuries sustained in car accidents.

Understanding Soft Tissue Injuries

Before noting prevalent soft tissue trauma, you may wonder, “what are soft tissue injuries?” Examples of your body’s soft areas include your muscles, ligaments and tendons. Soft tissue injuries involve:

  • Overuse injuries like strains – triggered by overusing tendons and muscles
  • Sprains – triggered when overextended joints damage ligaments
  • Contusions – triggered by bruising

If you experience symptoms such as bruising, soreness, stiffness and inflammation after a car collision, you could have a soft tissue trauma.

We recommend treating these and other soft tissue injuries as quickly as possible, especially severe soft tissue injuries. If you don’t, you could make your injuries worse, re-injure yourself after recovering, suffer a physical disability, or experience changes to the way you move and how your body responds when it moves.

For instance, when other bones and tissues compensate for weakness connected to soft tissue trauma, your body could experience premature cartilage wear and tear.


When car crash impacts jostle a person’s head forward or backward, it could cause whiplash. The violent whipping motion may tear, harm, or overextend your neck’s tendons and muscles.


Symptoms of Whiplash

You may not immediately recognize when you have a soft tissue injury like whiplash, because symptoms could take a while to appear. During harrowing events like motor vehicle accidents, adrenaline floods your system and masks pain.

Once the danger passes, the body resets itself and clears adrenaline from your system. In the days and weeks after the accident, you may notice symptoms of whiplash, such as:

  • Tender or tight neck muscles
  • Headaches that start at the base of your skull and ripple outward toward your forehead
  • Stiffness or discomfort when looking over your shoulder
  • Stiff or knotted neck muscles
  • Restricted range of motion
  • Discomfort when moving your neck

If you notice any of these symptoms or anything similar, let a car accident doctor physically examine you.

Treatment for Whiplash

Depending on the severity of your whiplash, it could heal on its own, but we recommend following a treatment plan to help the recovery process.

As quickly as possible after the accident, ice your neck for 15 minutes every three or four hours for two to three days to address pain and inflammation. Protect your skin by wrapping the ice in a thin cloth or towel. After icing your injury for two or three days, you may switch to moist heat applications, such as taking warm baths or using warm, damp towels.

You may only need over-the-counter pain medication like ibuprofen and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, but ask your doctor about the side effects of taking them long term. If your doctor prescribes you other painkillers or muscle relaxants, ask if you should take them with over-the-counter medication.

While asking, “what are soft tissue injuries,” we also recommend asking, “what are soft tissue trauma treatment devices?” Your medical team may suggest a neck collar or brace for support for acute injuries. If so, make sure you do not use the collar or brace for very long, as prolonged use weakens the muscles.

Rotator Cuff Injury

The sudden trauma of a car accident could trigger a rotator cuff injury in the shoulder. You could endure a complete tear or a partial tear in the underlying muscle fibers. With a partial tear, the tendon over your shoulder becomes damaged or shredded; complete tears involve full separation of the tendon from the bone.

Rotator Cuff Injury

Symptoms of Rotator Cuff Injury

Rotator cuff injury patients may experience extreme, chronic pain or minor occasional discomfort. Common indications of the soft tissue injury include:

  • Popping or clicking sounds when you move your arm
  • Losing your ability to lift objects
  • Experiencing pain when you rest on your arm or move it a specific way
  • Experiencing trouble reaching behind your back or lifting your arm
  • Feeling weakness in your shoulder

See a car accident doctor sooner rather than later if you suspect you have a rotator cuff injury. Left untreated, the tissue trauma could lead to arthritis or an injury called “frozen shoulder,” in which the shoulder stiffens gradually and worsens.

Treatment for Rotator Cuff Injuries

You could need little more than ice, rest, physical therapy, over-the-counter pain medication, and similar at-home treatments for a partial rotator cuff injury. A complete tear may require more intense treatment.

Rotator cuff injury patients who cannot sleep, exercise or engage in their normal activities may require a steroid injection in their shoulder. Because shots could weaken the tendon, medical professionals do not recommend them for long-term use.

Health care professionals tailor physical therapy treatments according to the patient’s needs. The goal of the treatment option is to strengthen the shoulder and restore flexibility. You may complete physical therapy if you undergo soft tissue trauma surgery.

Examples of surgeries performed to treat injured rotator cuffs include open tendon repair, arthroscopic tendon repair, tendon transfer and shoulder replacement. Which procedure your medical team recommends depends on your injury. For instance, if your tendon sustained too much damage, you could undergo a tendon transfer or shoulder replacement procedure.

Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury

Commonly referred to as the “ACL,” the anterior cruciate ligament band of tissue binds the bones of your knee together. A sudden impact, turn or jolt may tear the ligament completely or partially.

Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury

Symptoms of an Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury

You may not experience much discomfort if you only have a minor ACL injury. Instead, you could experience soreness radiating from the joint line of your knee. Sometimes, patients have trouble putting weight on or standing on their injured leg.

During the first 24 hours after your car accident, you could notice inflammation in your knee. Ice compression and elevation of the knee may ease the swelling.

Even if you have no trouble putting weight on your injured leg, you could have difficulty walking, or your knee may feel unhinged from its normal position. A similar symptom of an ACL injury is an inability to flex or bend your knee.

Treating an Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury

Expect to rest, ice compression, and elevation of your knee as part of initial treatment. You could also require several weeks of physical therapy performed at home or with help from a therapist. Rehabilitation could include wearing a knee brace to stabilize the injury or using crutches to keep weight off the knee.

Your doctor may recommend ACL injury surgery if:

  • Your injury forces your knee to buckle during daily activities.
  • You are physically active and young.
  • You have multiple injured ligaments or injured knee cartilage.
  • You play a sport that involves a lot of pivoting, leaping or cutting.

During the surgery, physicians remove the traumatized ligament before replacing it with a portion of tendon, which is the tissue that binds muscle to bone. The graft helps new ligament tissue to grow.

How Doctors Diagnose Soft Tissue Injuries

To determine what kind of soft tissue harm you could have, medical care professionals use various diagnostic tools and methods. Once you know for sure what kind of trauma you sustained, you may explore treatment options that help you make a full recovery from your acute or chronic soft tissue injuries.

Symptom Analysis

Your physician may only need a rundown of your symptoms to determine whether you injured soft tissue. Pay attention to how your body feels after a car collision, so you know what symptoms to share and address with help from your doctor.


While X-rays show the body’s bones, they also help diagnose soft tissue trauma. By taking X-rays, doctors note spacing between the bones that could indicate trauma to soft tissue. Shifts in bone alignment, degenerative shifts, bone growths, and narrowing are signs of injured soft tissue.


Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Using powerful magnets, MRI scans create detailed images of injured body parts. A healthcare professional may recommend an MRI if X-rays do not provide a clear, detailed picture of your injury.

You could also undergo an MRI scan if you suffered damage to the discs in your spine. Compared to traditional X-rays, MRI scans come at a greater cost and require more medical expertise to interpret.

Computed Tomography (CT) and Computerized Axial Tomography (CAT) Scans

CT and CAT scans combine computer technology and X-rays to build cross-sectional images of injured body parts. While X-rays give an inside view of your body, CAT and CT scans show soft tissue damage.

Despite their enhanced visibility, these scans have disadvantages, mainly their expense. It makes sense for patients and medical care providers to take X-rays before CT or CAT scans.

Medical Professionals Who Treat Soft Tissue Injuries

Now that you know more about soft tissue trauma, types of injuries, injury symptoms and diagnostic methods, you may wonder which medical professionals could join your treatment team.

Sports Physician

Even if you do not play sports, you could need help from a sports physician to address the constant pain many soft tissue injuries often trigger. Sports physicians also suggest surgical alternatives and medications for swelling.


Chiropractors administer spinal manipulations and adjustments to help reposition the spine back into natural alignment. Patients with soft tissue injuries along the spine could experience difficulty with healing, and they may endure headaches and pains in the neck and back.

Physical Therapist (PT)

With help from a physical therapist, you could avoid a debilitating injury. PTs also help make sure injuries heal correctly and patients experience little injury pain.

Massage Therapist

Pay close attention to your pain levels after a car crash. Massage therapists perform deep tissue massages not only to address discomfort, but also to help patients use less pain medication by easing constant discomfort.


If a motor vehicle accident injures soft tissues in your brain, you could suffer a concussion. A neurologist may suggest a neurological exam to check your speech, cognitive functioning, balance, vision, and reflexes.

You could also see a neurologist if you suffer from post-concussion syndrome, which is when concussion symptoms linger longer than normal. A medical professional may eliminate other neurological causes, write a prescription, or refer you to another medical specialist.

Orthopedic Doctor

You may see an orthopedic doctor first if you suspect you sustained a soft tissue injury. These medical care professionals treat joint pain, neck and back pain and sports injuries.

An orthopedic car accident doctor could become part of your rehabilitative and recovery team, helping you regain flexibility and strength, overcome pain and learn stretches and exercises that help you avoid more injuries.

These doctors also perform surgery. Before stepping into the operating room, they sit with patients to discuss surgical options and their pros and cons to help car crash victims make well-informed medical decisions.

Thanks to medical treatment advancements, patients have more surgical options besides invasive and extensive procedures that require long hospital stays. You could qualify for minimally invasive surgery that leaves less soft tissue damage and uses smaller incisions.

Contact Us Today

When you wonder, “what are soft tissue injuries,” turn to the leading accident and injury resource center in New York and New Jersey. Accident Help Zone directory lists physicians in New York and New Jersey that specializes in treating various injuries resulting from workers’ compensation accidents and motor vehicle collisions. These doctors accept no-fault insurance, PIP (Personal Injury Protection), medical liens, workers’ compensation and other health insurance plans.

Rather than sell insurance or offer legal or financial advice after a car crash, we instead put together useful resources to help you recover from a personal injury caused by another person’s negligence. Let us help arm you with all the facts and guidance you need to recover financially and physically.

If you or a loved one sustained physical trauma in a car crash, do not delay to get on the way to recovery. Let Accident Help Zone help you find the right car accident doctor near you today.

To connect with us, submit an online form or call one of our representatives at 888-412-8488.