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How long does it take to recover from an athletic injury?

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The first piece of information that needs to be stated is that injuries of any kind are not one size fits all. However, depending on the injury there can be some general guidelines to consider when wondering how long you might be out for and how long before you’re back up and running. 

For everything but the most minor athletic injuries, you will want to incorporate sports injury therapy to not only make sure you’re back to normal quicker but also to make sure everything is healing correctly. As general information, here’s a quick overview for how long you’ll be out for some of the most common injuries. 

Ankle sprain

Sprains are typically the result of running or jogging on uneven terrain and are commonly referred to as “rolling” your foot. The rolling motion happens when your ankle ligaments are forced to stretch beyond their normal ability which results in a tear. 

Depending on the severity of the sprain, the recovery can take anywhere from 6-12 weeks and, as long as you’re careful and it’s minor enough, can heal on its own. The best method of self care for a sprain is referred to as the RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) method. 

Surgery will only be needed for the most severe sprains or if the ankle continues to be unstable after the rehabilitation period.

ACL tear

ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) is what connects the thigh bone to the shin bone and what helps to stabilize our knees.Tearing the ACL is often the result of sudden movement, stops, or a change in direction. Unlike a sprain, an ACL tear will not heal without surgery. So anyone that suffers a torn ACL and is looking to return back to their athletic normalcy will have to undergo surgery to do so. 

If it is simply an ACL injury and not to the point of a tear, one might be lucky enough to not need surgery but depending on the severity it could still take up to 12 months of serious physical therapy for an athlete to recover from their injury. If surgery is needed, the total recovery time will be even longer and will determine the course that therapy takes. 

Tennis elbow

What’s medically known as lateral epicondylitis is a condition brought on by overuse of the arm, forearm, and arm often through repetitive motion. The pain from tennis elbow can go away on its own for some, for many others it can take anywhere from 3 months to an entire year depending on how much the arm is allowed to rest. 

The correct stretches and rehabilitation program are critical in restoring the arm to what it once was and they cannot begin until the pain itself has gone away. Once you are at that stage, your arm should be better within the year and if it’s not, surgery might be the only option left. The surgery will remove the damaged tendon and reattach the start of the healthy tendon to the bone.

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