Physical Therapy- Healing Takes Time and Patience

3 steps of successful physical recovery

It might take a nanosecond to injure yourself, but don’t kid yourself. Recovery takes considerably longer. An injury to a muscle, ligament, or bone, or the wearing away of cartilage causes pain, perhaps swelling, and discomfort. You need to repair those body parts to heal. And that means you need time. Successful healing or recovery takes time and patience. There are 3 steps of physical recovery and healing.

Successful Physical Rehabilitation

In Physical Therapy, successful rehabilitation –  decreased pain, greater range of motion, restoration of function, return to work and daily activities—is a multi-step, time-consuming process.

3 Steps of Physical Recovery and Healing

  1. In the acute phase—when you have swelling, are in a considerable amount of pain, and have trouble moving—your body will need to begin to heal. To heal you will need:
  • Immediate rest
  • Limited movement
  • Compression bandages or sleeves might be used along with elevating your hurt body part to reduce swelling
  • Heat and/or ice along with massage may be used to enhance healing

You may work with a physical therapist, an occupational therapist, or both. This first stage may take days or weeks, depending upon the severity of your injury or condition.

2. As healing begins and you start to feel better, you may begin to work on regaining a normal range of motion, and increasing your strength.

  • You may feel stiff and unstable if you’ve been immobile for a while
  • A doctor or therapist may work with you on stretches and limited exercises during this phase of rehabilitation
  • You may still be wearing a splint or brace during the day and at nighttime as your recovery continues

3. As therapy continues over the next few weeks or even months, the pain and swelling should continue to subside.

  • Additional exercises may be added—as tolerated
  • You may learn about new ways to perform or avoid painful activities so that you don’t re-injure yourself.
    • For example, if your thumb hurts, you may want to re-think activities that make the pain worse.  If chopping vegetables makes your thumb ache and swell, you may start using pre-cut options so you don’t have to cut and slice at all.
  • You may also learn to use adaptive or assistive devices like a book rest that holds your book open for you so that you are not holding it with your thumbs.

Successful rehabilitation or healing from an injury and a return to normal activities—can happen. But, it does take time, along with a healthy dose of patience.

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Our blogs are educational in nature and are not intended as a substitute for medical advice. Because your condition is unique to you, it is recommended that you consult with your health care provider before attempting any medical or therapeutic treatments. We are always happy to answer questions about products mentioned in our blogs, however, we cannot provide a diagnosis or medical advice.

11 comments on “Physical Therapy- Healing Takes Time and Patience

  1. I like what you suggested about avoiding activities that make your injury hurt while you’re recovering. I had carpal tunnel surgery about a month ago, and my wrist still hurts when I drive.

  2. I like that you mentioned how many addition exercises can be added upon throughout the therapy process. It is important not to give up if the therapy starts slow. Finding a good therapist, and sticking with it can make all the difference in recovery.

  3. This is some really good information about physical therapy. I had no idea that using both heat and ice during a massage could help you heal better. My brother hurt his leg really bad running and I wonder if doing this could help him recover faster.

  4. The most important thing to remember is it just takes time. consistency, and patience. As someone who has a very mild case of Cerebral Palsy, I have had both occupational and physical therapy over the years. You may get frustrated at times, but you just have to stay focused, and never loose sight of your end goal.

  5. It really helped when you talked about how physical therapy can help you regain the mobility you need to do what you love. I can see that taking the time to do some research can help you find the best professional that can help you get the relief and mobility you need to be happy.

  6. This is some really good information about physical therapy. How you should limit your movement. That would be a hard thing for me to do. But it would be smart to not getting up and running around doing things when you are trying to heal.

  7. I thought it was interesting that additional exercises may be added as the therapy continues, though it makes sense. For whatever reason, I thought that they would introduce everything that you will do to get your body back into shape and then work your body up slowly. Slowly bringing in new exercises as your body heals will definitely help you to not strain your muscles and help your body heal at a reasonable pace. It’s nice to know what to expect going in to this! Thanks for sharing.

  8. That’s really interesting that rehabilitation and and physical therapy happens in multiple phases and over time. A friend of mine is currently going through therapy and he was getting a little frustrated that he wasn’t seeing results as quickly as he wanted. I’ll have to let him know that therapy is almost like working out and it takes time to see results. Thanks for the awesome advice!

  9. I’ve been trying to decide whether or not I should go in for physical therapy after my accident. I didn’t know that rehabilitation could help me not feel stiff! I’ve been feeling that way a lot. I’ll have to give it a shot. Thanks for sharing!

  10. A friend of mine was in a car accident, and has been having trouble moving. I was curious as to what they could do to help that. It’s interesting that they have physical therapy to help people regain their movement. Thanks for sharing!

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