Hurt your shoulder while surfing at Folly Beach? Fall down running on the cobblestone in Downtown Charleston? Pain and injury can be very difficult to manage and is usually the first thing that people ask about during their evaluation here at Made 2 Move. How long will I be in pain? The short answer: we don’t have an exact time frame. We can give a general time frame based on research, but every injury and body is going to heal differently and at different rates.
One factor we are confident in as a major key to healing injury is time. While no patient wants to hear “time will heal,” this is the truth in most cases. The healing process is not linear and everyone will progress at different rates in their rehab, but generally, time is the ultimate healer for injuries. 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 clinicians will tell you that 6-12 weeks is the time frame it takes for injury to heal. This is a general statement based on the 3 phases of healing (inflammatory, proliferation, and remodeling). Injury recovery is incredibly multifactorial; thus, recovery times can vary greatly from this 6-12 week estimate.
One of the biggest factors (aside from time) in healing is blood flow. This is why we 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 lots of blood flow (the heart is as muscle), tendons and ligaments receive less blood than muscles do, and cartilage receives the least.
Many of the patients we see come in with chronic pain or overuse injuries in which the time frame can get even more complicated because of the complexity of associated pain.
What does the research say?
Recent research has looked into low back pain, as this affects a large majority of the population at some point in their lives. Researchers found that most acute back pain gets better in 6-8 weeks with no treatment. This is not an excuse to not go to physical therapy. Physical therapy gives you the confidence and clarity to move forward, stay active, and manage your l