A common question asked of us is “how long will it take for me to feel better and completely heal?”
The answer to this question varies depending on the severity of the injury. A general time frame for healing of the musculoskeletal system is 6-8 weeks, but some injuries can take more or less time. It is important to keep in mind that healing is not always linear, it is perfectly normal to have ups and downs along the way. Treatment goals will vary depending on what stage of healing your body is in.
Initially, reducing and managing pain along with improving quality of life is the first step. You will begin to feel improvement, such as decreased pain severity and lessened muscle spasm and increased range of motion. As pain continues to diminish, tissue healing begins to ramp up.
This second stage of healing is crucially important but tends to get under valued due to lessened pain. As tissue tonicity begins to normalize it is crucial for muscle re-education while muscle fibers are being realigned and healed. The re-education of proper firing patterns allows muscles and joints to function properly. Skipping this step leads to re-injury within the first few weeks to months and chronic pain. Dysfunction of one area impacts the surrounding tissues which will continue spread due to compensatory patterns of the kinetic chain. An example of this is when you have foot pain, it affects your gait and you begin to walk differently. Prolonged improper biomechanics lead to extra forces being applied to your knees, hips and low back. Thus, initial untreated foot pain is now causing knee, hip and low back pain.
It is important to remember that healing and the journey to a healthier life has its ups and downs. It is also important to remember that the intensity of pain does not always correlate to the severity of the injury and vise versa, not having pain does not mean tissues are no longer damaged. For example, when you put your hand on the stove it takes a second or two for the body to realize there is pain, but the damage and injury has already occurred. As the injury heals the pain lessens but there is still tissue damage.