How Long Will My Injury Take to Recover?
You have just suffered a new injury. No matter the injury, you are probably wondering, “When will I be back to normal?” “How long with my injury take to recover?”
The answer to this is not always straightforward. However, our body has approximate healing times associated with injury. Remember that everybody is different and therefore your recovery may vary from these timeframes.
Muscle injuries are often strains or tears of the muscle tissue. Muscle injuries may create pain, lack of ability for muscles to lengthen/stretch appropriately, or difficulty with contraction of the muscle creating altered movement patterns. Examples of muscle injuries are quadricep strains from kicking a soccer ball, “pulling” your lower back muscles while lifting a heavy box with poor mechanics, or whiplash injury to the neck muscles. Muscle injuries vary in intensity and therefore healing times.
Mild muscle strains will typically heal in 2-3 weeks. Moderate strains may take closer to 6-8 weeks. Severe strains may take several months to restore normal function.
Muscle strains are typically treated with rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Once appropriate, exercises to stretch, activate, and strengthen the muscles are utilized. Heat may be used after the acute phase of injury. Physical and occupational therapists can walk you through the appropriate timeline on when to begin exercises tailored to your injury.
Tendon injuries vary from inflammation, degeneration, or tearing of the tendon. Tendons are tissue that connects muscle to bone.
Tendinitis: inflammation of a tendon often due to sudden overload or overuse injury. Examples include Achilles tendinitis or tennis elbow. Symptoms typically will improve within 2 to 8 weeks.
Tendinosis: degeneration of a tendon. When addressing tendinosis, you can expect to see improvements in 2-3 months if treated appropriately and find full healing within 3-6 months. This may take longer with chronic tendinopathies.
Tendon tears: when requiring surgery, tendon tears typically take 6-12 months to restore normal function in the affected body part. Tendons typically begin to heal in 3-4 months but require several months of physical therapy to ensure safe restoration of strength and use of affected tendons are achieved. Examples of tendon tears include Achilles ruptures or rotator cuff tears.
Tendinopathies heal well with progressive overload meaning slowly increasing resisted/weighted exercises to improve the integrity of the tendon. A physical or occupational therapist can assist you in safely healing your tendon injury by giving you exercises tailored to your injury based on healing times.
Ligaments are connective tissues that connect bone to bone. They provide stability to joints. Common examples of ligament injuries include a sprained ankle or ACL tear.
Ligaments typically take 2-8 weeks to heal with mild sprains, 2-6 months with moderate sprains, and 6-12 months or surgical intervention with severe sprains or tears.
Fractures/Breaks: bones typically take about 6-12 weeks to heal. This time frame will vary greatly depending on your age, bone density, the bone fractured/broken, and other tissue healing surrounding the fracture/break.
Fractures/breaks are typically given a period of rest to allow healing. Following this rest, adding load to the bone is important to stimulate bone healing/growth. This often includes weight-bearing and resistance activities to build strength in the bone and surrounding muscles/tendons. Physical and occupational therapy is utilized to maintain mobility during offloading/non-weight-bearing stages of bone fractures. It is then utilized to create an exercise program that will strengthen the affected area and restore normal function.
No matter the injury, physical and occupational therapists can guide you through recovery to bring you back to your daily activities and hobbies. They will give you specific exercises tailored to your type of injury and healing times. Consult our therapists at Freedom Physical Therapy Services today to better understand your injury and accelerate your healing!