Acute vs Chronic: How Long Does Recovery Take?

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Acute vs Chronic: How Long Does Recovery Take?

This is probably one of the most common questions I am asked as a physiotherapist. Speaking from experience, it’s one of the first thoughts that crosses a person’s mind after they have been injured. We want to know when the pain will stop, when the movement will return to normal, when we can get back to the activities we love. 

Unfortunately, the answer to this question isn’t so straightforward. 

The length of time that it takes to recover from an injury will vary depending on the injury, as well as the person! Other variables such as activity level, nutrition, and adherence to the prescribed physiotherapy program will also influence the rehabilitation timeline. At a more basic level, muscle tissue typically takes 2-4 weeks to heal and connective tissue takes 6-12 weeks to heal. However, this time frame may be shortened or extended based on the factors I mentioned above.


Our rule of thumb for estimating recovery time is a few weeks for acute (short term) injuries and a few months for chronic (long term) injuries!

Surgery recovery times are more variable and case-dependent, so please check in with your family doctor or surgeon for these estimates!

Physiotherapy can help reduce recovery time in a variety of ways. Manual hands-on therapy helps to break down muscle adhesions, decrease inflammation and swelling, and improve joint movement and synovial fluid distribution. The education provided by practitioners following an injury is also incredibly important! You will learn what activities you should and should not be taking part in, and what you can be doing at home to help your recovery (athletic taping, ice, heat, etc.). Lastly, your therapist will provide you with an exercise program designed to take you from wherever you are currently to where you want to be! These targeted exercises will help strengthen, stabilize, and mobilize problematic muscles and joints in order to get you out of pain and back to 100%. 

Throughout my experience as a physiotherapist, one of the most reliable indicators of rehab success for my clients is commitment.

This means commitment to the plan we create together, commitment to the exercise programs, and commitment to follow through with the advice provided. It is also incredibly important to maintain an open dialogue about any barriers that you face throughout the recovery process such as pain, inability to perform exercises, financial factors, or scheduling difficulties. Physiotherapists want to work alongside you to develop creative solutions to any problems that arise. Remember, you’re not in this alone!


Do you want to recover from your injury faster? Give us a call at 780-540-1115 and we’ll start your rehab journey together!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Aspire Physiotherapy