I remember when I was a little kid, and every scrape or cut that I got would heal within a few days. Now it seems like it can take weeks or even months for a minor injury to heal. Want to know something interesting that I hear all the time? "Wait till you hit 40... everything just goes downhill from there." Do you find yourself having the same thoughts? Continue reading to find out more about healing and recovery!
Clients always ask me how long it will take for them to recover from their condition. It's such a hard question for me to answer because it depends on so many factors. It's important to have expectations regarding recovery, but predicting recovery times is not so straightforward. There are many possible reasons why healing and recovery may take longer than expected.
The type and location of an injury makes a big difference. The amount of blood supply or circulation to a damaged tissue affects healing time which explains why tendons heal much slower compared to muscles. Sustaining a broken bone or spraining a ligament will also result in different recovery rates. If an injury occurs to a body part that is involved in many functions of daily living (i.e. breathing, sustaining postural stability, controlling head or limb movements, etc.), recovery may take longer as it has little time to rest. The degree of injury will impact rate of healing as well: a sprain or strain accompanied by minor swelling and minimal loss of movement and strength will heal much quicker than a complete tear that is accompanied by substantial pain and complete loss of strength and movement.
There is no doubt that aging negatively affects our recovery process. As we age, the cells in our body become damaged, and their functions may be compromised. Compared to cells of young children, they become less efficient at their jobs and are less able to perform optimally. In addition, changes in blood flow and hormones and decreased bone and muscle mass may also play a role.
You know that long health history form that you have to fill out when you go to a new clinic? It is actually relevant! Our general health history and medications definitely impact healing time. There is a strong correlation between increased healing time and medical conditions such as diabetes, obesity, smoking, alcoholism, and many more. The use of certain medications like blood thinners, or corticosteroids, or immunosuppresants may affect the body's healing process as well. In addition, poor nutrition and/or vitamin deficiency will adversely affect recovery.
Another factor that can change recovery time is how the person manages their injury. What did they do during the acute phase of the injury? Did they initiate appropriate treatments early, or did they miss the window of opportunity to minimize healing time? Did they continue to work a physically demanding job or continue to push themselves through a hard exercise program? Did they go back to playing sports too early?
There are many factors that can complicate, delay, or even prevent full recovery after an injury. It is important to understand that different people will heal and recover at different rates and times. Be realistic, and don't expect miracle cures, but at the same time, don't let it stop you from getting better!