Have you ever heard anyone say, “I never want to get better?” Neither have we!
You’ve been suffering long enough and you want to see the results of all your hard work pay off. You’re doing physical therapy, resting when needed, icing or heating after activity. So, when will you be better?
While we would love to be able to set a specific time frame to when you will get relief, there are a number of factors that contribute to the rate of your recovery. Unfortunately, when it comes to recovery, it’s true what they say... “It depends!”
There are several different factors that contribute to rate of your recovery including the following.
Severity of injury
While someone who sprains an ankle may be more susceptible to repeat injury, the body’s ability to heal is greatly impacted by the severity of the injury. If you suffered an ankle sprain, your rate of recovery is going to be quicker than someone who suffered a large tear or underwent surgery. Makes sense, right?
A comorbidity is defined by verywellmind as “the presence of more than one disorder in the same person.” When someone suffers an injury or undergoes surgery, some factors that may negatively affect someone’s recovery time can include other diseases, injuries, and stress. As an example, according to an article published by US News, “psychological stress can extend the time required to heal wounds by 25 percent or more.”
If you are suffering from multiple things at the same time, you may have a slightly delayed recovery time, but don’t be discouraged! Your physical therapist has experience in helping people overcome injuries with a variety of comorbidities. When reviewing your medical history, the more details the better! If something from your medical history doesn't pertain to your current case, they will let you know. Otherwise - include as much as possible from the beginning so they can determine the best plan of care for you, with your medical history in mind.
One of the greatest contributing factors to the rate of recovery is a patient’s compliance to their recovery protocol. When your medical team tells you to do something specific, there’s a reason behind it. Some things to consider in regards to compliance and injury recovery:
Attending physical therapy appointments – If your doctor says you’ll benefit from physical therapy, you’ll benefit from physical therapy. Your doctor will give your physical therapist an order that will include how frequently you should be attending physical therapy. At your initial appointment with your PT team, your therapist will help to create a plan of care that is specific to you (and your doctor). It’s important for you to attend your physical therapy appointments in order for you to see results.
Completing HEP – Your physical therapy doesn’t stop when you leave the office – you have to do the exercises they prescribe to you at home. While in therapy, you will work on specific exercises designed to help improve your symptoms. It is important to take note of proper way to do these exercises so you can repeat them by yourself at home. If you have questions regarding your exercises, be sure to have them answered by your therapist.
Icing/Heating - Depending on your injury, your therapist will suggest you either ice or heat. If you want to see results of everything you are doing to progress your recovery, follow their instructions. If icing or heating makes your symptoms worse, it is important to express your concerns with your therapist so they can change your course of treatment.
The more compliant you can be, the better. However, if you have to miss an appointment because of a family emergency or you forgot to do your exercises one day, don't be too hard on yourself! Life happens. Just get back on track as soon as possible.
An important thing to consider with any injury are your everyday activities. Things like school, work, and sports may play a role in your recovery. If your job requires a lot of heavy lifting and you injure your should, your recovery may be impacted as you can’t stop working. If you are able to alter your everyday activities while you recover from whatever injury you have, you may improve your recovery time! If not, again, your physical therapist can make recommendations on some things you can modify in the meantime.
Again, these are just a few of the factors that contribute to your recovery, but every body is different! If both you and your neighbor sprain an ankle, your recovery time could look completely different.
Arlin Cuncic for verwellmind.com, "Facts About Comorbidity," November 4, 2019, https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-comorbidity-3024480
Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, Ph.D. for US News, "Does Stress Hinder Wound Healing?", April 16, 2010, https://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/health-advice/2010/04/16/does-stress-hinder-wound-healing