Menu   WellSpan Health

Health Library

Health Library

Soft-Tissue Injuries

What are soft-tissue injuries?

Many activities can lead to soft-tissue damage of muscles, ligaments, and tendons. The result can be pain, swelling, bruising, and damage. Soft-tissue injuries are classified as the following:

  • Contusions (bruises)

  • Sprains

  • Tendonitis

  • Bursitis

  • Stress injuries

  • Strains

Athletes and nonathletes share many similar soft-tissue injuries.

What is a contusion?

A contusion (bruise) is an injury to the soft tissue often produced by a blunt force, such as a kick, fall, or blow. The result will be pain, swelling, and discoloration because of bleeding into the tissue. Treatment for contusions includes Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation (R.I.C.E.). More serious contusions may need to be examined by a doctor.

What is a sprain?

Illustration demonstrating the three ligaments involved in ankle sprains/strains

A sprain is an injury to a ligament and is often caused by a wrench or twist. Sprains often affect the ankles, knees, or wrists. The treatment for a sprain includes Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation (R.I.C.E.). If the ligament is torn, surgical repair may be necessary.

What is tendonitis?

Tendonitis is inflammation of the tendon, a flexible band of tissue that connects muscle to bones. Tendonitis is often due to an overuse injury in the affected area from repetitive motion. Areas commonly affected include the elbow, hand, wrist, shoulder, hip, knee, ankle, and foot. Often the tendonitis is named for the sport or movement that triggers the inflammation, such as tennis or golfer's elbow, swimmer's shoulder, and jumper's knee.

Treatment involves healing the inflamed area with rest, compression, elevation, and anti-inflammatory medicine. Ice may be used in the acute phase of injury. Stretching and strengthening exercises can gradually be added to help avoid further injury. Steroid injections may be used for some types of tendonitis if chronic pain persists. If a tendon is completely torn, surgery may be required.

What is bursitis?

Bursitis is the inflammation of the bursa, a fluid-filled sac that provides a cushion between bones and muscles or tendons. Like tendonitis, bursitis is often caused by overuse injury, but can also be caused by direct trauma to a joint. Bursitis commonly affects the shoulder, elbow, knee, hip, ankle, and foot.

Treatment involves rest, compression, elevation, and anti-inflammatory medication. Ice may be used in the acute phase of injury to reduce swelling. Injections may be necessary if pain and swelling persist. If the bursitis is caused by an infection, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics.

What is a stress fracture?

A stress fracture is a small crack in a bone, commonly occurring in the weight-bearing bones of the lower extremities, including legs, hips, and feet. Stress fractures are most often caused by overuse and increase in physical activity. Initial treatment includes stopping the activity that caused the fracture, elevation, ice, and anti-inflammatory medication. Continued treatment includes rest, decreasing weight-bearing on the affected area, shoe inserts or braces, and possibly cast immobilization. If the crack in the bone progresses further to a complete break, surgery may be required.

What is a strain?

A strain is an injury to a muscle or tendon, and is often caused by overuse, force, or stretching. The treatment for a strain is Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation (R.I.C.E). If a tear in the muscle occurs, surgical repair may be necessary.

Soft-Tissue Injuries - WellSpan Health

Online Medical Reviewer: Finke, Amy, RN, BSN
Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Last Review Date: 2013-10-30T00:00:00
Last Modified Date: 2013-11-30T00:00:00
Posting Date: 2008-11-30T00:00:00
Published Date: 2013-12-04T00:00:00
Last Review Date: 2007-06-30T00:00:00
© 2015 WellSpan Health. All Rights Reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

Are you sure you would like to cancel?

All information will be lost.

Yes No ×

About the provider search

This search will provide you with WellSpan Medical Group and Northern Lancaster County (Ephrata) Medical Group primary care physicians and specialists. If we don’t have a WellSpan Medical Group physician to meet your criteria, the search will expand to include community physicians who partner with WellSpan Medical Group physicians through the WellSpan Provider Network or provide care to patients on the Medical Staffs of WellSpan’s Hospitals.


Schedule Your Next Appointment Online with MyWellSpan

Use your MyWellSpan patient portal any time to view available appointments, and pick the date and time that best suits your schedule.

Go to MyWellSpan

New to this practice?

If you don't have a WellSpan primary care provider and would like to schedule a new patient appointment with a provider who is accepting patients, just log into your MyWellSpan account, and go to the Appointment Center section. As you progress through the scheduling process, you will be able to see the offices that are accepting new patients in relation to your zip code. If you are not enrolled in MyWellSpan, go to, call 1-866-638-1842 or speak with a member of the staff at a participating facility to sign up. New patient scheduling not available at all practices/programs.

Already a patient at this practice?

If you already have a relationship with a WellSpan practice, simply log into your account, and go to the Appointment Center section. As you progress through the scheduling process, you will be able to schedule an appointment with any provider or practice that already counts you as a patient. Online scheduling varies by practice/program.