‘How long’ – What to expect during your soft tissue injury rehabilitation
One question that is on every new clients’ mind is – how long will this take? How long until I can return to my daily activities, running, work etc. The answer is difficult to determine and this is important when discussing rehab timelines and managing expectations within recovery. No two people will have the same recovery or rehab process.
Soft tissue injuries are injuries to the muscles, tendons, and ligaments They are often classified as strains, sprains, and contusions. Factors involved in timeline estimation are degree of injury, time since injury and individual factors.
These injuries can be graded as follows
Involves damage to only a small number of fibres, often involving minor swelling and discomfort with minimal loss of strength or function
Involves greater tissue damage, substantial loss of strength and function and often involve the most pain
This is the complete rupture of the tissue. Involving a significant change in function. Pain from a is often less than a Grade 2 as due to the complete rupture the injured tissue cannot be stretched or contracted.
To properly assess how long recovery will take your healthcare provider will need to know when you sustained the injury to determine which phase of healing you are in. The three main terms used to talk about this are
Acute (inflammatory phase)
First 24-72 hours
The pain and injury are new, swelling and (possibly) bleeding at the injury site are often at their worst and the goal of this phase is to protect the body from more damage.
48 hours to 6 weeks
Pain and bruising may still be present, the body begins to recycle the damaged tissue and lay down new, healthy tissue at the place of injury. New tissue begins to mature and strengthen to support normal function
Late Stage (remodeling)
3 weeks to 12 months
The damaged tissue has been replaced and is maturing. The tissue may not be strong enough to cope with all stresses placed upon it, if a deficit is found further tissue is developed to strengthen and support function
In addition to the severity and time since injury there are other factors that affect healing times that are specific to each person. Things like other pre-existing chronic medical conditions, nutritional status, medication use and smoking, alcohol and substance use/abuse all have an influence on healing rates.
Due to all of this, time line determination is often more of an art than a science. The rehab process can be long and often confusing – and that is why we are here to help! If you are suffering from a soft tissue injury and would like assistance on your journey to recovery, please visit us at ProActive Rehab.