Have you ever experienced swelling or bruising in certain parts of your body? But, you don’t remember indulging in any rigorous activities? You should get yourself checked for deep tissue injury.
Deep tissue injury is mainly a serious lesion or ulcer that develops in the subcutaneous tissues under intact skin.
It is caused by constant pressure, rubbing, or abrasion of a particular skin patch. Moreover, it usually goes unnoticed until the symptoms worsen.
It can start from seemingly harmless redness, soreness, or blisters and evolve to become permanent tissue damage. However, don’t worry. Therapies like deep tissue massage therapy using the best tissue massager can help prevent such injuries and even help treat them if you’re affected.
If you lead an active lifestyle where you use certain body parts rigorously, you should check out the details provided in this article. So let’s get started.
What is a Deep Tissue Injury?
For those new to the concept, deep tissue injury is subcutaneous damage that originates close to the bone and affects the muscles and soft tissues. This injury goes neglected until it reaches the highest stage of severity because it does not affect the external skin.
Instead, it takes around 48-72 hours for a deep tissue injury to show any signs. These include redness, bruising, or lesions on the skin. Before that, the damage would feel and look like a minor muscle sprain or spasm.
If you’ve recently had a fall on a hard surface or laid down on a hard surface for too long, you should look for the signs of deep tissue injury for immediate treatment.
Some common signs after 72 hours of deep tissue injury include:
- Purple or maroon non-blanchable bruises in the area. Meaning the site does not become white and void of blood like typical skin tissues when touched firmly.
- Firmer or harder skin due to dead tissue underneath
- Breaking down of the internal tissue leading to disintegration of the skin
How Are Deep Tissue Injuries Different from Pressure Ulcers?
Most people tend to confuse deep tissue injuries with pressure ulcers attributing to similar underlying causes. While both injuries are caused internally due to mechanical load or pressure, a deep tissue injury tends to progress towards the skin surface.
Additionally, it usually occurs next to a bony prominence or muscle tissue, which is not the case for pressure ulcers. The damage in pressure ulcers begins at the surface and slowly develops downwards into the soft tissues.
In case of a tissue injury, it is necessary to identify its true nature. This ensures that the proper treatment is given at the correct time. Relatively, a deep tissue injury is more severe than a pressure ulcer.
That’s because it does not become evident during its initial stages. Furthermore, it may lead to structural damage and tissue necrosis if left untreated for extended intervals.
Where Does Deep Tissue Injury Usually Occur?
Most commonly, deep tissue injuries occur on the heels. Besides that, the coccyx, buttocks, and sacrum are also commonly affected areas.
However, the deep tissue injury location in your case can depend on your lifestyle and the type of activities you take up every day.
For example, if you work a job that involves standing up or sitting down for prolonged periods. In this case, you can experience deep tissue injury in your heels or your buttocks.
Similarly, in people conducting constant manual labor, a deep tissue injury can arise in the arms and legs near the joints due to regular rubbing and exertion of the skin in that area.
How Extensive Can a Deep Tissue Injury Get?
Most of the time, a deep tissue injury is not as scary as it sounds. It can be treated and prevented by deep tissue massage therapy using the best deep tissue massager. However, if the symptoms are ignored, and the sore goes untreated, it can damage permanently.
Professionals have divided the extent of deep tissue injuries into four primary stages to make it easier to understand.
This stage marks the situation in which the affected area shows soreness or slight redness with pain. But, the sore had not yet turned into a highly pigmented bruise or an open wound.
A telltale sign of tissue damage before any redness or bruises is that the affected area may feel relatively warmer than the skin surrounding it. In some cases, the sore spot may feel firmer or softer compared to the skin around it, combined with slight pain.
At the second stage of the deep tissue injury progression, the lesion causes the external skin to break. This forms a tender, painful ulcer. This can either seem like an abrasion or a shallow crater on the skin.
Additionally, some deep tissue injuries appear like fluid-filled blisters and boils on the skin at this stage.
One thing to remember is that you can't use deep tissue massage to treat the injury at this stage. That’s because once the skin breaks open, massaging the area can further damage the wound, causing bleeding and infections.
At the third stage, the wound extends on the external skin forming a large crater reaching the tissue under the skin. At this stage, the open lesion does not expand towards the inner muscles or bone.
At this point, the injury has caused extensive damage to the internal tissues and muscles in the area. As the tissues beneath the skin slowly become dead, patients may experience diminished pain in the area at stage 4.
However, despite the improvement in external pain, any deep tissue injury left untreated beyond stage 4 may cause permanent infections of the bone or even blood sepsis.
Another point to remember is that all deep tissue injuries may not progress in the same manner. Sometimes, the sore may develop a dark red spot on the skin, indicating a blood-filled blister above the subcutaneous tissue.
Furthermore, sometimes layers of pus and damaged tissue cover the internal injury. This might make the skin appear yellow, green, gray, or black.
This might make it challenging to diagnose and determine its stage. That’s because the external covering and skin appearance do not allow the practitioner to identify the condition of the original sore.
In such cases, doctors recommend additional testing before subjecting the area to any sort of treatment. This helps avoid further damage to the damaged tissues.
What Are the Causes of Deep Tissue Injury?
Now that you know the severity and extent to which a minor dep tissue injury can reach, you’re probably wondering how to avoid it at any cost. To learn how to treat and prevent a deep tissue injury before it turns into a permanently damaged lesion, it is essential to know its primary causes.
This section will find details about the multiple causes and reasons for deep tissue injury to occur in both bedridden patients and active individuals.
Mechanical load is a general term that denotes all kinds of forces that cause internal tissues and muscles under the skin to tear and compress. For example, if you’re leading an active lifestyle as a professional hiker, sportsperson, or construction worker, constant pressure on a particular part of your body can cause deep tissue damage.
Non-mechanical pressure is another cause of deep tissue muscle as well. Even if you’re not significantly active daily, you can become subject to subcutaneous tissue damage due to prolonged rubbing or abrasion of a specific body part.
The best example of such deep tissue injuries is sores and lesions in bedridden patients or those undergoing prolonged treatment.
Similarly, if your daily routine involves sitting down or standing in a particular position for hours, the tissues around your feet, arms, and buttocks can show deep tissue damage. Even if the constant pressure is negligible, prolonged exposure can compress and deform the skin over time.
Shearing is when a force is parallelly applied to the skin surface for prolonged periods. When a wound or abrasion hits tangentially over the skin, causing torsion of the adjacent muscles.
Eventually, this causes deformation of the internal tissues and the torsion of the perforating vessels, creating deep tissue damage.
In a nutshell, direct pressure, insufficient blood flow, nutrient deficiency, damage to the fascia, and torsion of the perforating muscles are all common causes of deep tissue injury.
What Are the Common Risk Factors That Cause Deep Tissue Injury?
While deep tissue injury can happen to anyone at any time, some groups of people are constantly at risk of developing the issue. Besides that, deep tissue injury can be highly invasive in such patients compared to others who might recover quickly.
The most common stage 4 deep tissue injury patients are individuals with reduced or no mobility, paralysis, and muscle atrophy. Nevertheless, completely healthy people leading a relatively active lifestyle can also develop deep tissue injury attributed to the causes mentioned above.
However, the severity of the damage does not extend beyond stage 2 in such cases if the issue is promptly addressed and treated professionally.
Other risk factors that make individuals prone to deep tissue injury include,
- Being bed or chair ridden for long intervals
- Reduced or no sensations in certain parts of the body
- Urinary incontinence or perspiration combined with neglect for hygiene
- Acute diseases like diabetes and atherosclerosis affect blood flow
- Skin defects
- Neurological diseases
How to Care for Deep Tissue Injuries?
Whether you are at high risk of acquiring deep tissue injuries or not, you should know how to care for them. This way, you can address the issue for yourself or your loved ones during its initial stages to avoid permanent tissue damage. Some standard practices to treat and care for deep tissue injuries include the following.
Deep Tissue Massage Therapy
For example, if you spend hours at a stretch sitting on your chair at work and notice some tenderness or redness on your buttocks or under your knees, you should take precautionary measures immediately.
Start by assessing the site and getting it tested for the extent of the damage. If the external damage is minimal, initial subcutaneous injury can be easily reduced through deep tissue massages.
Remember, reduced blood flow is the major cause of deep tissue injury in such cases. A targeted deep tissue massage can help ease the pain, increase blood flow towards the wound, and help the tissues heal naturally.
It is important to use a high-quality and efficient deep tissue massager to ensure instant relief from the initial pain.
One of the best deep tissue massagers available online is the ExoGun DreamPro. The product is accessible and easy to use for individuals intending to use it on themselves or their loved ones.
It’s ideal for sportspersons and people with rigorous manual jobs to treat their tired body parts with soothing deep tissue massages using ExoGun every day. to avoid prolonged pressure on the subcutaneous muscles.
Other Care Methods
But, deep tissue massages are only ideal for subcutaneous injuries in their early stages. For severe injuries inflicted on patients due to underlying issues, you may need professional intervention.
Usually, doctors treat such issues by using several methods including,
- Repositioning of immobile patients from the site of the injury
- Providing hydration and good skincare to the affected area
- Positioning the patient on a proper support surface to avoid worsening of the injury
- Reducing the exposure of the affected area to moisture
- Prescribing occasional mobility and movement of the affected areas
- Adequate intake of proteins and other nutrients
Several factors cause deep tissue injury and it can develop in almost anyone. But, if diagnosed and treated correctly, the internal tissues can completely heal and become functional again.
However, the best way to combat serious deep tissue injuries is prevention. Suppose you’re at risk of acquiring deep tissue injuries. In that case, it is crucial to stay hydrated, reposition yourself at every interval, take proper nutrients, and use deep tissue massage therapy every day to avoid the ordeal.