When people think about severe injuries, broken bones come to mind. While broken bones are a serious condition, many people forget about the soft tissues. Mild muscle and joint injuries often heal quickly and without complication. However, muscle and joint injuries that go beyond mild levels and are more severe, such as those that result from auto collisions and work accident, can take much more time and effort to heal.
Soft tissues that are commonly injured include muscles and ligaments. Ligaments have poor blood flow and often take quite a while before pain and stiffness improve. Symptoms from most ligament injuries heal within 3 months, but healing time can vary due to a variety of factors such as reinjury that can occur while you are healing.
Muscles have much better blood flow and often heal more steadily. Symptoms from most muscle injuries heal between a few weeks to a few months.
Immobilization, rest, and ice immediately following a joint injury are important to help limit inflammation and further damage. However, immobilization after the initial acute phase can be harmful to your recovery. When joints are immobilized, scar tissue can form links across and between the fibers of muscles and ligaments. These cross links can pull on tissues and restrict motion causing pain. An example of a situation that can lead to this kind of restriction is having a cast placed on a joint to protect a broken bone. After the bone has sufficiently healed and the cast is removed, joint movement is restricted.