How Long Does It Take A Pulled Ligament To Heal?


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How long a pulled ligament will take to heal depends on the severity of the injury. The healing of ligaments, as with all other soft tissue, usually consists of three phases, namely inflammation, repair and re-modeling.

  • Inflammation
The so-called inflammatory phase begins immediately after the injury occurred, and will last for between three and five days, depending on how severe the injury is. The body will release chemicals to reduce the pain, and there may be some bleeding within surrounding tissue. Combined with the fluid from the damaged cells, this causes swelling in the joint, resulting in pressure on nerve endings and subsequently more pain. Rehabilitation can be speeded up by resting and elevating the injured part; applying ice packs or compresses and anti-inflammatory medication.

  • Repair
The repair phase is initiated by blood clotting, causing blood platelets to form a kind of mesh. Fibroblast cells present within the blood clot multiply and lay down immature, or Type 3, collagen tissue for three to 21 days after the original injury. Using electro-therapy during this phase will encourage fibroblast activity and ultimately provide structurally stronger ligaments.

  • Re-modeling
This final phase involves maturation of Type 3 into Type 1 collagen tissue, as well as re-alignment of the collagen tissue. When it is first laid down, this tissue is relatively haphazard and does not have a great deal of tensile strength. As the ligament gradually gains strength through a functional pattern of controlled strain, the fibers are aligned in a longitudinal way. Physiotherapy, usually involving a progression from controlled exercises to functional activities, will assist the re-modeling process. This process may take up to a year, and because of this, potential weakness of the ligament may result in repeated injury. Supporting the joint will help to prevent this.

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