The 4 Stages of Recovery

stages of recovery

Every injury, and every patient is unique. While most of us recover at approximately the same rate, the stages of recovery can look very different for each person.

In fact, the latest research shows that Recovery can be classified in 4 stages.  These stages are: Acute, Sub-Acute, Late and Final.

Let’s take a look at what each of these stages mean for your recovery:

Stage 1: Acute Stage | Protection Phase

An injury is considered acute while the pain, bleeding, and swelling is at its worst. Your body’s aim at this point is to protect your injury from further damage. This stage lasts usually 2-4 days post-injury, but this can vary from person to person.

Treatment may include:

  • Ultrasound
  • Electrical stimulation
  • Ice/Heat
  • Taping

Stage 2: Sub-Acute Stage | Repair Phase

In addition to the first phase, an injury is considered sub-acute when the body begins to repair the injured tissues. This phase usually lasts up to six weeks post-injury. This is when your body is busy laying down new soft tissue and reducing the need to protect your injury. New scar tissue begins to mature and strengthen.

  • Treatments are still used as needed for inflammation.
  • Strengthening exercises are added as stabilize the injured area and increase function.

Stage 3: Late Stage | Remodeling Phase

In fact, your body does not magically just stop tissue healing at six-week post-injury. Healing is a continuum. At six weeks, your healing tissue is mature but not fully healed. As you stretch, strengthen and stress your new tissue, it is often not quite strong enough.

Consequently, your body stimulates additional new tissue to help strengthen and support the healing tissue. It does this until it meets the demands of your normal life.

The period between six weeks and three months post-injury is referred to as the remodeling phase.

  • Treatment will focus on progression back to pre-injury level.
  • Strengthening exercises are more dynamic and in several planes of motion.
  • Modality use is minimized.

Stage 4: Final Stage | Ongoing Repair and Remodeling

Lastly, the final stage of recovery can last from 3 months up to 12 months. Scar tissue needs time to properly align and strengthen for the forces placed on it. This phase focuses on improving the quality of the new tissue and preventing re-injury.

  • Treatment will be specific to prepare for demands placed on the injured site.
  • Education on preventing re-injury is key!

Every injury faces its own challenges and breakthroughs. For more detailed information, contact us or request an appointment below!