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The Importance of Taking Time to Heal from Sports Injuries


What are the healing times of common sports injuries for athletes and individuals who engage in recreational sports activities?

The Importance of Taking Time to Heal from Sports Injuries
A young, happy sportswoman is getting tens-electrotherapy treatments at a medical clinic.

Healing Times for Sports Injuries

Healing time from sports injuries depends on various factors, such as the location and extent of the injury and the health of the skin, joints, tendons, muscles, and bones. It is also important to take the time to recuperate or not rush back into physical sports activities before the bones or tissues have fully healed. To prevent re-injury, ensure the doctor clears health before returning to sports or strenuous physical activity.

According to CDC research, an average of 8.6 million sports and recreation-related injuries occur annually. (Sheu, Y., Chen, L. H., and Hedegaard, H. 2016) However, most sports injuries are superficial or caused by low-grade strains or sprains; at least 20% of injuries result from bone fractures or more serious injuries. Bone fractures take longer than sprains or strains, and complete tendon or muscle ruptures can take months before one can fully return to activities. Individuals in decent physical shape with no underlying illness or impairment, here is what they can expect when recovering from the following sports injuries:

Bone Fractures

In sports, the highest rate of bone fractures occurs with football and contact sports. Most are centered around the lower extremities but can involve the neck and shoulder blades, arms, and ribs.

Simple Fractures

  • Depends on the individual’s age, health, type, and location.
  • Generally, takes at least six weeks to heal.

Compound Fractures

  • In this case, a bone is broken in several places.
  • It may require surgery to stabilize the bone.
  • Healing time can take up to eight months.

Fractured Clavicle/Collarbone

  • It may require the immobilization of the shoulder and upper arm.
  • It can take five to ten weeks to heal fully.
  • Fractured fingers or toes can heal in three to five weeks.

Fractured Ribs

  • Part of the treatment plan includes breathing exercises.
  • Painkillers may be needed short term.
  • Usually, it takes around six weeks to heal.

Neck Fractures

  • It may involve any one of the seven neck vertebrae.
  • A neck brace or a halo device that is screwed into the skull for stability may be used.
  • It can take up to six weeks to heal.

Sprains and Strains

According to the CDC report, sprains and strains account for 41.4% of all sports injuries. (Sheu, Y., Chen, L. H., and Hedegaard, H. 2016)

  • A sprain is the stretching or tearing of ligaments or the tough bands of fibrous tissue that connect two bones at a joint.
  • A strain is the overstretching or tearing of muscles or tendons.

Sprained Ankles

  • It can heal in five days if there are no complications.
  • Severe sprains involving torn or ruptured tendons can take three to six weeks to heal.

Calf Strains

  • Classified as grade 1 – a mild strain can heal in two weeks.
  • A grade 3 – severe strain may require three months or more to heal completely.
  • The use of calf suppression sleeves can expedite the recovery of strains and sprains in the lower leg.

Acute Neck Strain

  • A tackle, impact, fall, quick shifting, or whipping motion can cause a whiplash injury.
  • Healing time can take a couple of weeks to six weeks.

Other Injuries

ACL Tears

  • Involving the anterior cruciate ligament.
  • Usually, it requires months of recuperation and rehabilitation, depending on several factors, including the type of sports activity.
  • Full recovery from surgery takes six to 12 months.
  • Without surgery, there is no specific timeline for rehabilitation.

Achilles Tendon Ruptures

  • It is a serious injury.
  • These occur when the tendon is either partially or completely torn.
  • Individuals will more than likely require surgery.
  • Recovery time is four to six months.

Cuts and Lacerations

  • Depends on the depth and location of the injury.
  • It can take anywhere from a week to a month to heal.
  • If there are no accompanying injuries, stitches can be removed within two to three weeks.
  • If a deep cut requires stitches, more time is necessary.

Mild Contusions/Bruises

  • Are caused by a trauma to the skin, causing blood vessels to break.
  • In most cases, a contusion will take five to seven days to heal.

Shoulder Separations

  • When treated properly, it usually takes around two weeks of rest and recovery before the patient returns to activity.

Multidisciplinary Treatment

After the initial inflammation and swelling have subsided, a doctor will recommend a treatment plan that usually involves physical therapy, self-performed physical rehabilitation, or supervision by a physical therapist or team. Fortunately, athletes and individuals who regularly exercise tend to have a faster healing time because they are in top physical shape, and their cardiovascular system provides a stronger blood supply that speeds up the healing process. At El Paso’s Chiropractic Rehabilitation Clinic & Integrated Medicine Center, we passionately focus on treating patients’ injuries and chronic pain syndromes. We focus on improving ability through flexibility, mobility, and agility programs tailored to the individual. We use in-person and virtual health coaching and comprehensive care plans to ensure every patient’s personalized care and wellness outcomes.

Our providers use an integrated approach to create personalized care plans that include Functional Medicine, Acupuncture, Electro-Acupuncture, and Sports Medicine principles. Our goal is to relieve pain naturally by restoring health and function to the body.

If the chiropractor feels the individual needs other treatment, they will be referred to a clinic or physician best suited for them. Dr. Jimenez has teamed up with the top surgeons, clinical specialists, medical researchers, and premier rehabilitation providers to provide the top clinical treatments for our community. Providing highly noninvasive protocols is our priority, and our personalized patient-based clinical insight is what we provide.

Lumbar Spine Injuries in Sports: Chiropractic Healing


Sheu, Y., Chen, L. H., & Hedegaard, H. (2016). Sports- and Recreation-related Injury Episodes in the United States, 2011-2014. National health statistics reports, (99), 1–12.

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Professional Scope of Practice *

The information herein on "The Importance of Taking Time to Heal from Sports Injuries" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.

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Our information scope is limited to Chiropractic, musculoskeletal, physical medicines, wellness, contributing etiological viscerosomatic disturbances within clinical presentations, associated somatovisceral reflex clinical dynamics, subluxation complexes, sensitive health issues, and/or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions.

We provide and present clinical collaboration with specialists from various disciplines. Each specialist is governed by their professional scope of practice and their jurisdiction of licensure. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for the injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system.

Our videos, posts, topics, subjects, and insights cover clinical matters, issues, and topics that relate to and directly or indirectly support our clinical scope of practice.*

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We understand that we cover matters that require an additional explanation of how it may assist in a particular care plan or treatment protocol; therefore, to further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez, DC, or contact us at 915-850-0900.

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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN*, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, ATN*

email: coach@elpasofunctionalmedicine.com

Licensed as a Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) in Texas & New Mexico*
Texas DC License # TX5807, New Mexico DC License # NM-DC2182

Licensed as a Registered Nurse (RN*) in Florida
Florida License RN License # RN9617241 (Control No. 3558029)
License Compact Status: Multi-State License: Authorized to Practice in 40 States*
Presently Matriculated: ICHS: MSN* FNP (Family Nurse Practitioner Program)

Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN* CIFM*, IFMCP*, ATN*, CCST
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