Soft tissue injury is a very broad term encompassing injury to muscles, tendons, ligaments, blood and lymphatic vessels, peripheral nerves and subcutaneous tissues. Various forms of trauma are usually the cause, and the diagnosis mandates a thorough physical examination and additional procedures to assess the extent of the injury.
Blunt or penetrating trauma, most frequently seen in motor vehicle accidents, sports activities, and intentional injuries are the predominant causes of soft-tissue injury, which includes many forms and subtypes. Localized pain may be a shared feature of all soft tissue injuries, but signs and symptoms somewhat depend on the tissue involved :
The clinical presentation of soft tissue injuries is diverse, making patient history and the physical examination the most important parts in the diagnostic workup. Events that have led to injury, as well as its type, may provide sufficient clues to make an initial diagnosis and perform further procedures that can determine its severity. A detailed clinical examination of the affected joint or part of the body must be employed through adequate examinations (inspection, palpation, and various probes that estimate the range of joint motion, severity of pain, etc.), primarily to define the exact type of injury and decide which procedures can solidify clinical suspicion. Arteriography and doppler ultrasonography can be helpful in evaluating vascular injuries , while standard ultrasound and arthroscopy are the valuable methods for assessment of joint tissue . More advanced imaging studies - computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are useful for assessment of ligaments, joints, tendons and muscle injuries. Finally, electromyography (EMG) and nerve conduction studies can be employed in the case of peripheral nerve injury.