Much like the physical therapy process for sprains and strains, there are several factors that figure into the length of treatment required following one of these painful injuries. According to Trevor Delaney, DPT, director of the UPMC Centers for Rehab Services Oakland location, there are also several factors to consider in determining the necessary recovery time for sprains and strains, and a timetable for returning to a sport or daily activities.

“There are several factors that determine when you can return to daily activities and playing sports,” he says. “You will typically be able to return to daily activities gradually while being treated by their therapist. If you plan to return to sport activities, you will likely do this towards the end of treatment.”

More accurate time frames for returning to activity will typically be discussed after the therapist evaluates your injury. Once the therapist notices stability in the injured joint and strength in the surrounding muscles, he or she can assess your overall response to the exercises performed at physical therapy to determine whether you are ready to return.

“As a general rule, once you return to an activity or sports following a sprain or strain, you should be able to do so without having any complaints,” Dr. Delaney says. “It is difficult to apply a general recovery time for sprains or strains, however once a therapist evaluates your injury, a more accurate time frame can be determined.”

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It is generally safe to perform a desired activity once cleared by your therapist if you can complete it without:

  • Sharp or stabbing pain
  • Pain that gets worse throughout activity
  • Pain that occurs after activity and lasts into the next day

Before returning to activity, make sure to consult your doctor or physical therapist. If you are experiencing any pain or swelling, seek medical attention immediately.

Have you ever had a sprain or strain? What helped you recover?

About Sports Medicine

Sports bring with them a potential for injury. And if you are looking to prevent, treat, or rehabilitate a sports injury, UPMC Sports Medicine can help. We serve athletes from a wide variety of sports across every demographic: young or old, male or female, pro or amateur. We partner with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Pitt Panthers, and over 60 high school, college, and regional teams and events. We’re working to build better athletes. We use cutting-edge rehabilitation techniques to help you recover and provide education on how to prevent injuries.