The Injury Fact Sheet: Healing & Recovery Expectations

After dealing with the initial pain of an injury and receiving your diagnosis, the next question typically sounds like, “How long will it take to recover?” 

There are a lot of factors that come into play with this question and your physiotherapist will be able to work with you to provide a rehabilitation plan. But there are some general guidelines around how long things take to heal such as muscles, bones, and tendons/ligaments.

Alongside healing, it is important to consider expectations around recovery. In this blog we’ll discuss:

  • How long do muscle, bone, tendon and ligament injuries take to heal? 
  • Setting recovery expectations
  • Important considerations for a full recovery such as mindset, nutrition, and general health.

 

Healing time frames

weightsMuscle healing times

How long do Muscle injuries take to heal? Most muscle injuries involve sprains, strains, contusions, and tears. Muscles take the least amount of time to heal because they have a very good blood supply.

  • Minor sprains, strains, and contusions are likely to be resolved within two to six weeks. 
  • More serious strains and tears may take four to eight weeks depending on severity. 
  • In most cases, these injuries should not stop you from doing activities at home or interfere with work. However, it is advisable to have a rest from high-intensity exercise. 

Common muscle injuries include hamstring strains and ankle strains. They are common in a number of high-intensity sports.

 

Bone healing times

How long do Bone Injuries take to heal? The majority of bone injuries are fractures (like tibial stress fractures) and broken bones. 

  • Most fractures need a period of immobility, usually six weeks. This can be extended for complicated fractures.  
  • Depending on the severity and site of the fracture you may be in a sling, cast, or have surgery to hold the bones in place. 
  • Once you have clearance from the specialist then we can start the rehab phase. Time-wise this can take another six weeks or longer.

It is important to note that the first six weeks is when the soft bone is being laid over the fracture site. It can take a further three to 12 months for the bone to be as strong as the rest of the body.

  • The initial six weeks will affect your ability at home and work. During the rehab phase, you may be able to return to normal duties. Return to sports can take anywhere up to one year.

 

Tendon & ligaments healing times

How long do tendon and ligament injuries take to heal? These injuries are commonly sprains, tears, or full ruptures. Out of the different tissues discussed here tendons and ligaments take the longest time to heal. This is due to its very poor blood supply.

  • Minor sprains may take up to six weeks to be fully resolved.  
  • Major sprains and tears may take several months and/or may need surgery. If surgery is required it will extend the recovery period.  
  • Full ruptures will most likely need surgery and can take over a year to be fully resolved depending on the injury. 
  • Home and work ability is likely to be affected and return to sports will take anything up to a year depending on the injury.

If you want to know more about how Proactive 4 Health can help with your rehabilitation, Book your appointment today or give us a call. We’ll help you get things moving how they should, faster and safer.

recovery expectations

Recovery Expectations

It’s simple. Your body heals when you rest. A balance between rest and activity is the key here.

In the very beginning, this is no more than is required (as advised by your Doctor or Physio). From then on, it essentially means resting and sleeping during the times when your body is in its ‘wind down state’. During night time rest, your body undergoes its physical repair between the hours of 11pm and 1am. Therefore, getting to sleep by 10.30pm and waking before 8am is the key to optimizing your rest patterns and healing.

Next comes the education and rehabilitation phase. This is where we gradually increase the ability of the affected site until all goals have been met. The injury may respond quickly to treatment; however it can also be an extended period of time before recovery is achieved. The loading of physical structures stimulates the growth and strengthening of these tissues. Continuing to move also stimulates blood flow to the injured area, ensuring a supply of vital nutrients and waste removal. 

Finally, we want to ensure integration into normal activity is successful and that re-injury does not occur. Successful integration can be a slow process and may also mean modifying work or home routines until normal function is achieved.

With most cases it is expected to return to 100% pre-injury function. However, with more complex injuries this may not be possible. It is important to be realistic about what is achievable and what isn’t. Goals will be created with your health professional to ascertain an agreed level of function. The time of recovery depends on the severity of the injury. 

 

Other aspects to consider

on the benchThere are also other influences that may affect recovery times. Recovery from an injury is a process. Often this process is relatively fast however, sometimes it can take much longer than anticipated. It is important that each stage has been adhered to and that in working with your health professional or team, you use all the tools that are given for a successful outcome.

If you are recovering from an episode of injury or illness, or even if you are just looking for optimal performance and wellness, taking control of different aspects of your life will prove to be a key in achieving your goals. 

For example:

 

  • Medical history: Some medical conditions may lengthen recovery times. For example, a fractured leg will need to be in a cast for six weeks, a diabetic with the same injury can take twice as long to heal. Other medical conditions that may affect rehab or recovery times are heart conditions, respiratory conditions, even simple colds and flu’s. 
  • Smoking and Alcohol: These have been shown to slow recovery times. 
  • Nutrition: At this time the body needs the right nutrition to heal itself. So having regular healthy meals and fluid will also help.  Eating the right amount and the right type of food will ensure that specific nutrients are available for tissue repair and hormone function; as well as ensuring that your body is in an anabolic state – the state required for tissue growth and recovery. Drinking enough water allows hydration of your body’s joints, enabling cartilage, spinal discs and nerves to function in the way they should. Eating too little, too much or unhealthy foods will alter your healing state, and contribute to overall poor vitality and health. 
  • Thoughts and Attitude!  This is just as important as what we fuel our body with. Excessive stress, inability to moderate emotional responses, and negative thought patterns all contribute to detrimental physical states that may interfere in the healing process. In contrast, positive thought patterns, positive emotions, and little stress can lead your physical body into a relaxed state, enhancing the healing process. Practicing positive affirmations, setting / working towards realistic goals, moderating stressful elements of your life, and practicing relaxation techniques will all aid in your recovery. 

 

If you would like to know more about these lifestyle contributors, please let us know and we can provide more in-depth workshops or educational information. We’ll help you get things moving how they should, faster and safer.

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