How Long Does Damaged Tissue Take to Heal?
After any kind of accident, you could have all kinds of injuries. One of the most common physical injuries that car accident victims, and victims of other kinds of accidents, suffer is tissue damage. This is typically known as a soft tissue injury, which is when the soft tissues of your body are stretched, bruised, or torn.
Soft tissues include your tendons, ligaments, and muscles. Since these injuries are so common, most accident victims are likely dealing with them, and want to know how long it will take them to recover. Let’s take a look at how long damaged tissue takes to heal so you can better understand your recovery timeline.
Soft Tissue Injuries and Their Healing Times
As mentioned above, a soft tissue injury is damage to the different soft tissues in your body, including muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Those injuries could be bruising, sprains, strains, and stress injuries. While the name soft tissue makes the injury sound gentle or mild, these can be some of the most painful injuries and require an even longer healing time than some injuries, like broken bones.
The problem with damaged tissue is that there are small tears in the tissue that cause pain, swelling, and bruising. Those small tears need to heal, but that can only happen through extreme care. Otherwise, the tissue could keep suffering from small tears. This is what makes healing take so long.
There are several phases of recovery that your tissues will go through, and each take a certain amount of time. These phases are:
- Bleeding – Up to 6 hours. Your injury, even though it’s internal, will bleed and create a bruise or tender spot.
- Swelling – A few days or a few weeks. In this phase, you’ll experience inflammation in the form of swelling and heat.
- Proliferation – Up to 6 months. This is when your body starts creating scar tissue to heal the tears, but the scar tissue is still weaker than the original tissue.
- Remodeling – Up to 2 years. In this phase, your body works to remodel the scar tissue into tissue as close to the original as possible.
This timeline can help you understand why it’s been weeks, months, or years and you’re still feeling pain and weakness in the tissues that were damaged—they’re still healing! In fact, even though it could be fully healed, you still might experience prolonged weakness in that tissue and could have to work harder to strengthen it for the rest of your life.
In the worst case scenario, the tissue is completely torn and will require surgery. This could extend your healing process because the surgeon will need to reattach your tendon, muscle, or ligament. Depending on the complexity, this could be a serious surgery.
However, sometimes a complete tear can heal more efficiently than small tears because it is a cleaner injury. No matter what, you’ll want to consult your doctor and surgeon for healing recommendations and the timelines to expect for recovery.
Injury Severity Classifications for Sprains
You might still be wondering about your soft tissue injury, which makes sense. You want to know as much as possible so that you can effectively heal. Something that you’ll need to keep in mind is the classification of severity for sprains. Other soft tissue injuries could vary in severity as well, but sprains have a special chart.
When you sprain your wrist, ankle, or knee, which are the most vulnerable to sprains, the injury will fall under one of these categories, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS):
- Grade 1. The tissues are slightly stretched with mild damage.
- Grade 2. More stretching and some tearing of the tissue. The joint feels loose and weak.
- Grade 3. Tissues are completely torn, and the joint is unstable.
Knowing which grade your injury is can help you understand your healing process better. A mild injury that’s grade 1 could use more gentle treatments to heal, while a grade 3 will likely require surgery and a long road to recovery. Let’s take a look at how you’ll heal that damaged tissue.
How to Heal Damaged Tissue
The most essential part of minimizing your healing timeline, or ensuring your injury heals as best as possible, is receiving care. When you get the medical care you need, you’ll start treatment right away. Physical therapy will be incredibly helpful in healing the damaged tissue. Aside from physical therapy, you’ll use the RICE method to heal your soft tissue injury, which is:
- Rest. Avoid using that part of your body that’s injured and focus on resting.
- Ice. Ice the injured area for 20 minutes multiple times per day.
- Compression. A compressive bandage or other compressive materials will help reduce swelling.
- Elevation. While resting, keep the injured part of your body elevated above your heart.
Other than the RICE method, your doctor could prescribe other treatments if the injury is more severe or overly painful. Painkillers, immobilizers like walking boots, and crutches could all aid you in pain relief and help your recovery time.
Additionally, if you need surgery to repair a fully torn tissue, your recovery process could look different. Your doctor will be able to guide you through what to expect, how your injury will be treated, and how long it will take you to heal.
Pittman Roberts & Welsh, PLLC Will Help You Recover
Any kind of accident can lead to you suffering from tissue damage, like a soft tissue injury. While these can feel like minor injuries, if they’re not taken care of, they can cause lasting damage that’s irreversible. For example, whiplash from a car accident could lead to permanent damage in your neck and surrounding areas.
That’s why it’s important to seek medical attention right away. That way, you get the treatment you need as well as a record that proves your accident caused your injuries. From there, a personal injury lawyer can help you hold the responsible party accountable for your injuries and damages.
At Pittman Roberts & Welsh, PLLC, we’re dedicated to victims of personal injury accidents. We have experience representing victims with tissue damage and understand how these injuries can be hard to spot. Reach out to our office today so we can get started on your potential claim.
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