Personal injury incidents, like auto accidents, can inflict a wide range of harm on victims. One of the more common types of injuries individuals suffer is soft tissue injuries, which we’ll list examples of below. Like any injury, the immediate pain or discomfort you may be experiencing if you’ve recently been hurt is likely significant and may leave you wondering, “Can soft tissue damage be permanent?”
The competent Albuquerque car accident lawyers that comprise our legal team at Buckingham & Vega Law Firm have long represented clients who’ve suffered these types of injuries in wrecks. So, we’ll share our experience in representing clients with these types of injuries in hopes that it may also be of value if you, too, have suffered harm.
What Are Soft Tissue Injuries?
Soft tissue can consist of fat, nerves, blood vessels, muscles, and tendons that surround and support joints and bones and play the role of connecting one part of the body to another (such as organs).
While there is some overlap between how medical organizations and governmental agencies define soft tissue injuries, there are some differences too. For example, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons describes the following as soft tissue injuries:
- Contusions (bruises)
Another source, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke classifies both whiplash and concussions as soft tissue injuries. Additional resources list stress injuries.
Signs You May Have Suffered Soft Tissue Damage
Since our car accident attorneys handle many cases involving soft tissue injuries, we’ve learned that the following are common indicators someone has suffered soft tissue damage:
- An audible popping or cracking sound was heard at the time of injury
- Visible disfigurement, which suggests that there’s some damage or disturbance to the underlying tissue
- Significant pain or discomfort at the apparent injury site
- Stiffness in the affected body part, including the back, neck, or limbs
- Numbness or tingling at the injury site, perhaps that radiates to other parts of the body
However, it’s important to note that signs and symptoms of a soft tissue injury vary. For example, a person who suffers a concussion, which is a type of brain injury, may experience:
- Blurry or double vision
- Increased fatigue
In contrast, repetitive stress injuries or whiplash may cause a victim to experience symptoms more like neck pain and tingling or numbness radiating into the limbs.
Soft Tissue Injuries and Their Permanency
It’s likely that most of us (or someone we know) have experienced soft tissue damage at some point in our lives, whether:
- In a car accident
- While playing sports
- As a result of having a slip and fall
- Some other way
While sensitivity to touch, tingling sensations, and throbbing pain associated with soft tissue injuries generally subside within six weeks for most patients who follow the rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE) approach, allowing the hurt party to return to life as normal, that’s not the case for some.
Patients with symptoms like stiffness, swelling, and strength impairments that persist for more than a few weeks should be reassessed. These symptoms may signify that the condition was initially improperly diagnosed or that the remodeling stage (final stage of healing when the body attempts to regain strength to restore functionality) didn’t go well.
A reassessment may also prompt your doctor to pursue a more aggressive treatment option, such as physical therapy or surgical intervention. However, if they aren’t ordered by your doctor or prove unsuccessful, soft tissue injuries may become permanent.
The likelihood that soft tissue damage will become permanent is highest when:
- Healing is thrown off-track mid-process: An example of this is if a re-injury occurs in the middle of healing.
- There’s overstretching of supportive tissue: If a strain or sprain results in the soft tissues being overstretched beyond their typical range of motion, then there’s a strong possibility for ruptures or tearing, results which can leave behind lasting, permanent injuries.
- Repeated injuries to the same soft tissue occur: Each injury to the same tendon or muscle wears it down further, meaning they compound upon each other, weakening them and leaving behind permanent functional impairments.
- More aggressive treatment options don’t have intended results: Again, this may occur if exercise interventions or surgery are ineffective in addressing the underlying injury or leave behind scar tissue, adding insult to injury.
Impairments like these can also leave behind psychological implications, like post-traumatic stress disorder, whereby the car accident replays in a victim’s mind, causing potential anxiety and depression.
While many individuals with mental health diagnoses like these may see improvements with counseling, that’s not always the case. Even with treatment, there can be good and bad times when what was once thought to be resolved once again rears its ugly head. This is another permanent consequence associated with these types of injuries that is seldom spoken about.
When To File a Claim for Soft Tissue Damage
Suffering an injury, even a soft tissue one, can be extremely painful. It can affect your mood, disrupt your sleep, make sitting, standing, and bending on the job challenging, and impact your quality of life in countless other ways.
Additionally, these types of injuries can be challenging to properly diagnose and treat, meaning it’s possible that you have to endure significant pain and suffering and miss time from work until doctors reach the correct diagnosis and identify viable treatment options for it.
A diminished quality of life and the investment of time and money into receiving proper diagnoses and treatment can take a toll on car accident victims. Fortunately, New Mexico law allows car accident victims who have sustained all types of injuries, soft tissue ones included, to recover compensation from the at-fault party who injured them.
If you need assistance determining where liability lies and building a strong insurance claim against a motorist who struck you, causing your permanent soft tissue injuries, our Buckingham & Vega Law Firm attorneys are eager to help. Contact us for a free case evaluation today.