One of the first questions we get asked in the initial PT session with us is, “How long will it take for me to get better?”
The short answer is that we don’t have an exact time frame. We are very good at giving clients a small window of how many visits they will need based on our research and experience, but every injury and body is going to heal at different rates.
Time is a major key in injury rehabilitation. It may be frustrating for clients to hear “it is going to take some time,” but it is the truth and we are always transparent about a realistic timeline. We aren’t in the business of quick fixes for one simple reason: they’re too good to be true.
How Long Do Different Injuries Take to Heal?
Most clinicians will tell you that 6-12 weeks is the time frame it takes for injury to heal. This is based on the 3 phases of tissue healing (inflammatory, proliferation, and remodeling). But we always have to take into account other factors that can affect healing, including stress, psychological factors, and diet. Injury recovery is incredibly multifactorial; thus, recovery times can vary greatly from this 6-12 week estimate. To narrow this window we have to account for these factors.
One of the biggest factors (aside from time) in healing injuries is blood flow. This is why we always encourage patients to keep moving if their injury allows it! 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 largely related to the amount of blood flow these structures receive. Muscles receive immense amounts of blood flow, while tendons and ligaments receive less blood, and cartilage receives the least.
Many of the clients we see at Limitless Performance PT 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. We don’t like to take activities away from our clients because we can usually make adjustments to keep client’s active while allowing their injury to heal. However, clients 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 to Help Heal My Injury?
“It’s going to take time.” 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. They don’t want to be kept from their goals of getting stronger, losing weight, or just staying sane by getting out of the house!
When our advice to a client is 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.” Like I said, we can find ways to stay active, but sometimes 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.
At Limitless, 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. Interested in PT for your injury? Give us a call at (607) 425-3369 or email us at email@example.com to set up an initial evaluation!