Soft Tissue Injuries in Motorcycle Accidents
Soft tissue injuries are often the consequence of a motorcycle accident. Soft tissue refers to the tendons, muscles, and ligaments surrounding bone. These injuries are classified as:
Contusions are caused by blunt force to the affected area. It is characterized by swelling, skin discoloration and pain. Rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE) are often the treatment.
Sprains are injuries to the soft tissue of a ligament that twists or wrenches the area and affects the ligaments in the wrist, knees, and ankles. Ligaments are fibrous bands of tissue that connect the bones. When stretched too far, it becomes painful. If torn, surgery may be indicated. The treatment listed from the acronym, RICE, is a recommended mode of care. Overuse, blunt force or stretching can also injure or cause a strain of muscles or tendons. Tendonitis, an inflammation of the tendons, can also result from trauma.
Most soft tissue injuries are associated with whiplash, a phenomenon whereby the muscles and ligaments in the neck and back are violently jerked backward and then forward in a whiplash manner. A motorcycle rider can experience the same injury when hit from behind or even the side. If you feel that you are about to fall, you might exert all your energy to stay on your bike, stretching and tearing muscles in an attempt to keep it upright.
In some cases, a soft tissue injury can result in a herniated disc or bulge in the neck or back, necessitating surgery if the pain becomes debilitating. If the injury was to an elbow or shoulder, tendonitis could result that can last for months. In severe cases, a soft tissue injury can require surgical intervention.
Most soft tissue injuries are treated conservatively with the RICE method, or victims seek physical therapy or chiropractic treatment that has been shown to restore the damaged area to normal or pre-accident status. Treatments generally last a few months though longer treatment may be necessary.
Proving a Soft Tissue Injury
You can show a broken limb, herniated or bulging disc or an internal injury through diagnostic tests such as x-rays, MRIs or CT Scans. Injuries to tendons, muscles or ligaments, however, do not appear on such tests. Because of the seemingly subjective nature of the injury, insurers for those parties that caused the accident are often skeptical. This is especially true if the treatment lasts for several months with no apparent improvement.
Injuries may be demonstrated by the medical history and examination by the treating provider. Certain orthopedic and other tests can demonstrate decreased range of motion, tenderness, and spasm in certain muscles and symptoms of nausea, sleeplessness, numbness, and headaches. An experienced practitioner can distinguish patients who are exaggerating or fabricating their symptoms from true sufferers.