Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Health Issues

Sports Injuries: Acute Soft-Tissue Injuries

Soft-tissue injuries involve muscles and the bands of connective tissue known as tendons and ligaments. Tendons connect muscle to bone, while ligaments connect bone and bone, providing joint stability.


A strain occurs when a muscle or tendon is torn or stretched. In severe cases, muscle fibers can tear, or the tendon can detach from the muscle or bony attachment.


A sprain is an injury to a ligament. Sprains usually occur when a joint is forced to move beyond its normal range of motion.  Ligament sprains are graded according to the resultant joint instability. A grade 1 or “mild” sprain causes pain and tenderness along the ligament, but not increased joint instability. A grade 2 or “moderate” sprain results in a partial tear of a ligament, and a grade 3 or “severe” sprain is a complete tear or disruption of a ligament to the point where the ligament does not provide any stability to the joint.


A contusion is a muscle bruise usually brought on by a jarring blow, as when a defensive linesman rams helmet-first into an opposing running back’s thigh muscle (quadriceps) while making a tackle. Bleeding in this muscle may result in swelling, pain, spasm and restricted motion in the muscle. In some situations, a deep muscle contusion can result in the muscle becoming warm, tender and firm to the touch. This calcification of muscle contusion is known as myositis ossificans traumatica.

Last Updated
Caring for Your Teenager (Copyright © 2003 American Academy of Pediatrics)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
Follow Us