Average Healing Times for Common Sports Injuries

man touching injured knee in brace
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Healing from sports injuries takes time. To reduce your time on the sidelines, get immediate first aid treatment for any injury. This will reduce your healing time and improve your total recovery. After the initial inflammation and swelling is controlled, healing begins.

Although healing times vary from person to person, athletes tend to have a better blood supply and heal faster than those with chronic illness, smokers, or those with sedentary lifestyles. A good blood supply speeds healing by moving nutrients, oxygen, and infection-fighting cells to the damaged area.

Keep in mind that you can not force yourself to heal—you can only allow yourself to heal. Rest, sleep, appropriately-modified activities and good nutrition are important for healing. Physical therapy may also be needed to heal from some injuries.

Average Healing Times

For someone in reasonable shape, without any chronic illness, the following list provides an estimate of the time it may take to recover from some common sports injuries.

Fractures/Broken Bones

  • Simple Fractures: A fractured bone generally takes at least six weeks to heal. The time any fracture takes to heal depends on the type of fracture and where it's located.
  • Fractured Finger or Toe: These fractures typically heal in three to five weeks.
  • Fractured Clavicle (collarbone): This may take five to ten weeks to heal.

Sprains and Strains

  • Sprained Ankle: Minor ankles sprains will heal in five days, while a more severe sprain can take from three to six weeks to heal.
  • Calf Strain, Pull, or Tear: A minor (grade 1) calf strain may heal in two weeks, while a severe (grade 3) strain may require up to three months or more to heal completely.

Other Sports Injuries

  • Cuts, Abrasions, and Lacerations: Cuts and abrasions take anywhere from a week to a month to heal, depending upon the depth and location of the injury and how it's treated. You will have a longer healing period for a deep cut, especially if it requires stitches.
  • Mild Contusion or Bruise: This often occurs from a hard blow or even a mild bump to the skin in which blood vessels are broken. A black and blue or purple patch often appears on the skin when blood leaks into the top layers of skin. Contusions generally heal in about five days.
  • Mild Shoulder Separation: Give yourself about two weeks to return to activity after a shoulder separation.
  • Achilles Tendon Rupture: After that dreaded "pop" you will probably face surgery for Achilles tendon repair. This will take from four to six months to heal. It is a serious injury.
  • ACL Repair: A complete ACL repair surgery will result in months of healing and rehabilitation. You will advance to walking with crutches and then no crutches, often by week 3. But it takes about five months to completely heal.

    The amount of time needed for full recovery after an injury depends on a variety of factors, but it's helpful to be patient and learn to cope with an injury while you allow your body to heal.

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    Article Sources
    • Return To Play Criteria; The American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine. 2003
    • Return to Sports Guidelines, Dept. of Rehabilitation Services, Functional Progression Following Stress Injury Protocol, Brigham and Women's Hospital, 2007