How long is this going to take?

King Julian might not have been talking about healing when he uttered the immortal line “How long is this going to take?” in Madagascar, but anyone who has had a soft tissue injury will surely have wondered the very same thing. Not to mention wondering why their Chiropractor wants them to keep coming back, even when they ‘feel better’.

The answer is both simple and complicated. Not all soft tissue injuries are created equal. Different tissues in the body heal at different rates. And those rates differ for every person, depending on the severity of the injury, your level of fitness, age, your individual body chemistry and the presence of other health conditions. So, the answer to the question is – as long as it takes.

What Happens During Healing?
The process of healing happens broadly in three phases:

  • Acute Inflammation – at the onset of the injury there is pain, swelling, heat and redness. This is caused by the release of chemicals required for the healing process. During this process damaged cells are broken down ready to be replaced with new ones. Collagen synthesis decreases, and the number of inflammatory cells increases.
  • Repair – As the number of inflammatory cells decreases, collagen fiber production increases. New collagen fibers are laid down in an unstructured pattern, which is not as strong or flexible as normal tissue.
  • Remodeling – in the final stage of healing, the collagen fibers begin to align more normally and tissues begin to regain their original strength, allowing the tissues to accommodate increased loads until eventually normal function is restored.

Muscles

Muscles are made up of soft, elastic tissue containing protein filaments of actin and mosin. Muscles generally have a good blood supply, which is essential for healing.

Muscle strains can be divided into three categories:

Grade 1 – is a mild strain and will usually heal within 3-6 weeks

Grade 2 – is more severe and will take weeks to months to heal

Grade 3 – is a full thickness tear or rupture, and will often require surgery. Healing time for this type of injury can be many months

Tendons & Ligaments

Tendons attach muscles to bones, whereas ligaments attach bone to bone. Tendons and ligaments have a much lower blood supply than muscles, which is one of the reasons they heal much slower. They are also much denser tissue, made up mostly of collagen fibers and fibroblasts, which synthesise extracellular matrix and collagen. Ligaments are generally more elastic than tendons. Consequently, damage to a tendon or ligament will heal much more slowly than damage to a muscle.

Grade 1 – should heal in 2-8 weeks

Grade 2 – healing may take between 2 and 6 months

Grade 3 – 6-12 months healing likely

Tear/Rupture – will require surgery and take a minimum of 4 months, up to over 12 months to fully repair

Of course, this is assuming the appropriate treatment for the injury is being received.

What can you do to speed things up?

There are a few key things you can do to speed up your recovery:

  1. Seek immediate first aid treatment when you are injured – proper management of an injury can make a big difference to your recovery.
  2. Ensure you seek treatment as soon as possible. The sooner your rehab starts, the sooner you will be back to normal.
  3. Follow orders! Your Chiropractor will provide you with advice, a treatment plan, and possibly exercises. Stick to them! The advice you are given is designed to get you back to normal in the optimum time, so listen to the experts. And if this means sitting out a few games or races – just do it. You will be happy you did in the end.
  4. Eat well. In the early stages Turmeric and Curcumin will help with inflammation. Vitamin C will help with collagen production, flush lactic acid from your muscles, and zinc helps with wound healing.
  5. Be patient. It will take as long as it takes.

So, next time you injure yourself and your Chiropractor suggests a treatment, rehab and exercise approach, try and stick to it. Otherwise how long it will take will be much, much longer than you might like.

If you have an injury, call our Baulkham Hills Clinic on 9639 7337 to make an appointment for assessment and treatment by our experienced Sports Chiropractor.

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Sports Clinic

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We service the Baulkham Hills, Castle Hill, North Rocks, Carlingford, Northmead, Parramatta, Blacktown, Seven Hills, Kellyville, Bella Vista, West Pennant Hills, Norwest and Westmead communities.

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