The following article will describe how long it will take for common muscle and joint injuries

For over 90% of all injuries, there is an end in site. Most muscle and joint injuries will eventually recover, only if they are treated in the correct manner. If you have knee pain and never take the necessary steps to get it better, it is a no brainer that it will not improve!

For some guidance in your rehabilitation process, below is a list of common conditions, followed by their average and expected duration to a full recovery. Please note that everyone one is different. The following factors can play a role in the recovery process and lengthen it’s duration

  • Age: The older you are, the longer the healing process will take
  • Body mass: The higher your body mass relative to your height, the longer the recovery process may take
  • Psychosocial factors: These include anxiety, stress, poor sleep, poor outlook on condition, catastrophising thoughts about pain
  • Anatomy: Some people have anatomical variations which may make them prone to injuries
  • Compliance to rehabilitation: If you do not comply with the rehab steps, then pain may linger.

Below is a list of common muscle and joint injuries, and their expected time to a full recovery. They will begin from the foot and work upward:

Foot, Ankle and Calf

Ankle sprain (Inversion) ‘Rolled ankle’: Depending on the severity and sports played, these can range from anywhere between 3-12 weeks. A complete rupture of the ligaments may require surgery which will push the process out further.

Achilles Tendinopathy: If managed well in the initial few weeks, these can fully recovery within about 4-6 weeks. If the injury has been around for about 6 months that you are looking at a 6-9 month recovery period to full sport.

Plantar fasciosis: Yes these injuries can commonly take their time, the expected recovery time can be between 8-18 months

Calf strain: These can be surprisingly longer than expected, anywhere between 2-8 weeks depending on the severity and sport played.

Medial tibial stress syndrome (Shin splints): Depending on the nature of the sport, these can take anywhere between 6-12 weeks until a full recovery.

Knee and ITB

Iliotibial band friction syndrome: A common injury in runners, this can take anywhere between 4-12 weeks until a full recovery.

Patellofemoral pain (Knee pain): Knee pain at the front and around the knee is common in runners and gym goers. This injury can take anywhere between 4-16 weeks until a full recovery.

Patella tendinopathy: A common injury in runners and people in jumping sports. Depending on how long it has been going on for, this injury can take anywhere between 4 weeks to 6-9 months.

Fat pad impingement: Similar to patellofemoral pain, this injury can take anywhere between 4-16 weeks.

Medial/ lateral collateral ligament sprain: Depending on the grade of injury, this can take anywhere between 3-12 weeks.

Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) sprain: Similar to the medial and lateral ligaments, it can take anywhere between 3-12 weeks.

Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) rupture: This will most likely require surgery if you plan to return to sport, the return to sport duration is between 9-12 months while the whole rehabilitation process should continue for 18 months.

Meniscus tears: Depending on the grade, these will have to be managed conservatively. Otherwise if surgery is required then a period of about 12 weeks until return to sport is allowed. The rehab process will need to continue ongoingly for 6 months.

Knee Osteoarthritis: Ongoing management required.

Hamstring, Thigh and Adductor

Hamstring muscle strains: Depending on which muscle and the location of the strain, these can take minimum of 3 weeks and can take as long as 12 weeks.

Hamstring tendinopathy: Depending on when these are first managed (early vs late), these can take anywhere between 6 weeks – 3 months.

Quadriceps muscle strain: These take surprisingly longer than expected. Depending on the grade, anywhere between 3-8 weeks.

Adductor (inner thigh) strain: Depending on the severity and if managed well these can take 3-8 weeks.

Iliopsoas muscle strain: Most likely between 3-8 weeks.

Pubic bone stress (Osteitis pubis): By this stage, the injury has become chronic meaning an extensive rehab process is in line. Commonly between 8-16 months.

Hip and buttock

Femoroacetabular impingment (FAI): These can be difficult to manage depending on the size and nature of the impingement. Anywhere between 3-6 months unless surgery is required.

Labral tears: If these are treated conservatively, the rehab process may be ongoing. Otherwise if surgery is performed, anywhere between 3-6 months.

Greater trochanter pain syndrome: These can take between 6 -18 weeks to fully recover.

Referred pain from the lumbar spine and Sacroiliac joint: Depending on the nature of the injury and the activity you play, these can take 4-16 weeks to a full recovery.

Piriformis syndrome: For a full recovery between 4-8 weeks.

Lower Back

Acute lower back sprain/strain: These usually have good outcomes if managed properly. Between 2-8 weeks to a full recovery.

Herniated disc: These also usually have a good outcome. Anywhere between 2 – 4 months.

Nerve root compression: Anywhere between 3 – 6 months.

Spondylolisthesis: Ongoing management required.

Spinal canal stenosis: Ongoing management required.

Sacroiliac joint injury/ sacroilitis: Can be highly variable, between 3-6 weeks up until ongoing management.

Upper back and neck

Sprained rib joint: Usually sprained rib joints can be quite painful, they can take anywhere from 2-4 weeks to fully recovery

Upper back joint sprain: Depending on the location and the severity of the injury, this can take anywhere from 10 days to several weeks.

Upper back muscle strain: Just like most muscle injuries, this can take between 7 – 21 days to fully recover.


Acute neck sprain: These can begin as very painful conditions, and usually get good results between 7-28 days.

Herniated disc: Depending on the severity and irritability, this can be anywhere between several weeks to 6 months.

Acute nerve root compression: These injuries can be anywhere between 3 – 6 months.

Upper trapezius muscle strain: These usually have good outcomes and can heal anywhere between 7-21 days.

Whiplash injuries: It is important these are managed well early on. The fastest recovery can be several weeks and can stretch out to 6 months if not managed properly.

Cervicogenic headaches: Depending on the duration of these symptoms, they could last indefinitely and need ongoing management or just last several weeks.

Shoulder Injuries

Rotator cuff strain/ tendinopathy: These can be difficult to manage if left untreated. Anywhere between 6 weeks to 6 months of treatment may be needed.

Sub acromial pain syndrome (Anterior shoulder pain): These would fall under the umbrella of rotator cuff strain and tendinopathy. They again could last between 6 weeks to 6 months.

Shoulder dislocation: Depending if there is other damage to structures around the shoulder, these injuries may take 6 weeks to 3 months to rehabilitate. If there are ongoing stability issues then it needs to be constantly managed.

Labral tears: If these are low grade tears, they may be managed conservatively. Otherwise they will require surgery followed by 6-9 months of rehabilitation. 

Clavicular fractures: These usually heal quite well, the rehabilitation process is between 6-9 weeks.

Rotator cuff tears: Depending on the severity, these may require surgery which could mean up to 6-9 months of rehabilitation.

Frozen shoulder (Adhesive capsulitis): These injuries are usually long term, the process for a full frozen shoulder can be up to 2 years until full range of motion is restored.

AC joint sprains: These are common in football and contact sports. Anywhere between 2-8 weeks until full recovery.

Elbow and wrist

Medial epiconylalgia (Golfers elbow): Typically can take between 4 weeks – 6 months to a full recovery.

Lateral epicondylalgia (Tennis elbow): Typically can take between 4 weeks – 6 months to a full recovery

Medial and lateral ligament sprain: Anywhere between 3-12 weeks.

De quervains tenosynovitis: Can take anywhere between 3-9 months until a full recovery.

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