Physical therapy & injuries
How long will it take for my injury to recover?.
The recovery of a operation or a injury can feel like an eternity. How long it takes to fully recover from an injury depends on several factors and is a common question from our patients. Our bodies are sometimes amazing at healing, but also at adjusting when the prospect of full recovery is questionable or no longer possible. This takes time, and in most cases there are no quick fixes. The recovery time depends on which tissue is damaged in combination with other factors such as; age, fitness, nutrition, stress and other similar influences. In this blog, we will go over the big picture with you and outline what you can expect with respect to your own situation.
The stages of recovery
Before we go into the specific images, we need to talk about tissue repair. Tissue repair or healing is the process by which affected tissue in the body is repaired and restored. This repair process is essential for maintaining normal functions in the body after damage or injury. This damage can occur as a result of, for example, a sports injury(outside forces) or as a result of an internal process such as an inflammatory reaction due to an autoimmune disease, for example.
The process of healing consists of 3 different phases; the inflammation phase, proliferation phase and remodeling phase.
The ignition phase
This is the phase immediately after the injury occurs. The body's natural reaction is to start the inflammatory process. This defense response is intended to remove affected cells and start the healing process. The first phase is characterized by symptoms such as swelling, redness, pain and warmth. This phase lasts on average up to a maximum of 7 days after the moment of onset and is sometimes even subdivided into the acute and late inflammatory phases.
A classic example of this is through your only go during exercise. Swelling, pain and loss of function occur almost soon after or at least within 24 hours.
After the inflammation phase, the proliferation phase begins. After the old cells are removed, new cells are created to replace or repair the damaged tissue. Blood vessels grow to supply oxygen and nutrients to the tissue. You can think of it as a kind of first aid for accidents. These new cells act as a kind of scar tissue and are the body's first solution to further recovery. This phase starts approximately from 1 week to 3 weeks after the onset of injury.
This is the final stage of recovery. The newly formed cells are gradually restructured. Thus, the scar tissue eventually becomes functional again and eventually stronger. These structures do not become completely like new but have the same function as the original tissue. This phase begins approximately after week 3 and can last up to 1 year or even longer.
The factors that affect tissue repair are:
The blood supply to the affected area. The better the blood flow the more favorable this is for full recovery. An example of this is the meniscus, the meniscus consists of three different zones, which are classified as well blooded, moderately blooded or poorly blooded. When there is a tear in the meniscus, we see that recovery is often very dependent on the location of the tear in the meniscus.
Overall health greatly affects how quickly the body recovers.
We know that things like smoking greatly reduce the body's blood flow and because of this, people who smoke have a much longer recovery time than those who don't. Excess weight also often plays a role indirectly because fat cells release inflammatory mediators of their own by certain hormones. Now, an inflammatory phase is a normal reaction and even necessary for recovery, only when the symptoms of this inflammatory reaction persist it has a lot of influence on the recovery process. Because of that there will probably be more pain we see that this pain will interfere with the rehabilitation process. Nutrition can also contribute to favorable recovery. Proteins in particular are essential for tissue repair but essential fatty acids also help manage the inflammatory response. Supplements can help but are often insufficient when your normal diet is not in order.
Influences of medication on injury recovery. We know that some medications have an adverse effect on the recovery process.
Recovery time of different types of tissue
Tissues are composed of different types of cells and therefore do not all have the same recovery time. Tissues in our body can be classified into:
And these structures are all made up of collagen, elastin, proteoglycans and cells. Only the proportion of these cells in the tissue is different. Tendon tissue, on the contrary, should be stiff and strong compared to muscle tissue. For this reason, a tendon consists proportionally much more of collagen tissue than muscle tissue. So it is essential to know which tissue is damaged in order to create the right expectations.
More than 400 muscles enable a person to walk, run, jump and move. Sometimes these muscles become overused leading to a muscle injury. A muscle injury is generally classified into several categories. Whereby muscle pain resulting from sports is the mildest variant and a complete muscle tear is the most severe variant. In some cases, surgery is necessary to repair the tissue, which of course negatively affects recovery.
Recovery time: 2 to 12 weeks.
Tendons connect muscles to our bones and transmit forces produced by muscles. Damage to the tendon can result from overuse, but in some cases is also the result of aging. A natural process again which comes with aging just like gray hair or wrinkles of the skin. Our bodies are just as susceptible to aging on the inside as we are on the outside.
Recovery time: 3 months to 1 year
- Tendonitis: 3 weeks to 2 months
- Tendinosis: 3 to 6 months
- After surgery: 3 months to 1 year
These structures are very similar to tendon tissue. Ligaments connect bones and provide passive stability in a joint. They provide guidance but also inhibition to extreme ranges of motion so that injuries can be prevented. But in some cases, they can fail in their function and become damaged. An example of a ligament is the anterior cruciate ligament or the outer ligament of the ankle. In the case of a anterior cruciate ligament injury surgery may be necessary to rebuild the ligament. Other damage can sometimes still recover naturally because of the fibrous nature of the ligamentous structures. If, despite the damage, these are short enough together, repair is still possible.
Recovery time: 2 weeks to 15 months
Ligament damage: minor damage or a strain can take 2 weeks to 3 months. If surgery is necessary, the total healing process can take up to 15 months, depending on which ligament.
Bones give support to our body and serve as attachment points for ligaments and tendons. The break of a bone is not uncommon and can occur after a fall or other high-speed accident. We do have more than 200 bones in our bodies. Larger bones often take longer to repair when broken.
Recovery time: 3 months to 1 year
Small fractures such as a stress fracture, for example, can heal within 3 weeks. Even in this case when surgery is necessary to repair the fracture, the recovery process can take longer than 1 year. We also see that along with a bone fracture there is also a lot of damage in the anatomical structures that are adjacent. Which can also damage tendon tissue or ligaments.
Why physical therapy?
Reduce recovery time with physical therapy! Our physical therapists are experts in treating complaints to these tissues. Our physiotherapy practice is fully equipped to rehabilitate orthopedic complaints (muscle, tendon, ligament, bone). Rehabilitation at Fysio Fitaal in Tilburg will contribute to recovery and lasting results.
The benefits of Physical Therapy during rehabilitation:
- Reduces pain symptoms
- Increases muscle strength around the injury
- Improves mobility and agility
- The right information about the symptom picture but especially about the expectations
- Reduces the risk of complications
Owner Physio Vital
Physical therapist, MSC. Manuel therapy
With a solid foundation in scientific knowledge, Ruben combines the latest insights with his practical experience to ensure the best results. As owner of Physio Fitaal, Ruben has created a patient-centered environment that works with innovative techniques and a data-driven approach. Whether you are an elite athlete looking to return to the field or someone recovering from knee surgery, Ruben will guide you to a full recovery, with attention to your individual needs and goals.
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