At Absolute Treatment one of the first questions patients ask in their PT evaluation with us is, “How long will it take for me to get better?”
In reality, we don’t have an exact time frame. We can give patients a predicted healing time based on our research and experience, but every injury and body is going to heal differently.
One factor we are confident in as a major key in injury rehabilitation is time. As frustrating as it is for patients to hear “time is the ultimate healer,” this is the truth. We will always be honest about your recovery timeframe.
The healing process is not steady and consistent, and everyone will progress at differing rates throughout their time in physical therapy. Read on for the long answer as to how much time it will take for your injury to heal.
How long do different injuries take to heal?
Most PTs will say 6-12 weeks is the time frame it takes for injury to heal. This is a textbook answer based on the 3 phases of tissue healing (inflammatory, proliferation, and remodeling). But what if your injury is not an “issue with the tissue”, but rather based on stress, psychological factors, or overuse? Injury recovery is incredibly multifactorial; thus, recovery times can vary greatly from this 6-12 week estimate.
One of the biggest factors in healing is the amount and quality of blood flow. When we say, movement is medicine, this is what we mean! In general, strains, sprains, and muscular injuries will take the least amount of time to heal, while bone, tendon and cartilage injuries tend to take longer. For example, a full ACL tear (ligament) will typically take longer to heal than a calf strain (muscle). This timeframe is related to the amount of blood flow these structures receive. Muscles receive immense amounts of blood flow but tendons and ligaments receive less blood. Cartilage receives the least.
Many of the patients we see at Absolute Treatment are highly active individuals, which we love! But due to their high level of activity, sometimes injury follows as a result of under eating, under recovering, or overuse. Patients that come in with chronic pain or overuse injuries often are frustrated by the healing process because they don’t want to slow down to allow their injuries to heal. This can lengthen their time in PT, worsen their pain, and extend the necessary time for rehabilitation. While pain is complex and sometimes the cause of pain is uncertain, one thing we are sure of is that recovery and rest is vital to healing!
How can I use time as the “ultimate healer” for my injury?
This is a frustrating response for many athletes to hear post injury, when the only thing on their mind is getting back to the gym or their sport. When our PTs at Absolute Treatment tell a patient that they’re going to have to take time off from their sport, Crossfit, or marathon training, many patients brush the advice off and want to just “power through.” However, this can just stall the healing process and keep you out of your sport longer. Listen to your PT when he or she tells you to take time off. Movement is medicine, yes, but the type, amount, and intensity of the activity and movement you’re doing may have to be tweaked during different stages of the healing process.
Here at Absolute Treatment, we try to equip you with exercises to do and strategies to stay active while your body works hard to heal itself. Our therapists understand that the dry needling, manual therapy, or 1 hour PT session are not what made you better. While we love the work we get to do with our patients, our goal is to move you out of our Absolute Treatment clinics, not keep seeing you for months on end with no progress.
At Absolute Treatment, our therapists strive to not have patients doing 3 PT sessions a week for 6 months. If you’re in PT that long with zero signs of progress, something obviously isn’t working. Our goal is to get you out of PT and back to your normal activities as quickly as possible. We recognize our treatment modalities are a major part of the healing process, but we also understand that time plays perhaps the greatest role.