416 Ilam Road, Fendalton, Christchurch 8052

Clinic Hours: Monday - Friday 7am - 8pm

416 Ilam Road, Fendalton, Christchurch 8052

Clinic Hours: Monday-Friday 7am-8pm

FAQ’s: The Healing Process: What To Expect As You Progress Through Your Recovery

Published by Better Health Osteopathy on 12 March 2024, Healing Process 

What is the general timeline for healing after a musculoskeletal injury?

The healing time for musculoskeletal injuries varies based on the severity of the injury and the individual. Generally, soft tissue injuries like strains and sprains can take weeks to a few months to heal, while more severe injuries may require several months.

How can osteopathic treatment assist in the healing process?

Osteopathic treatment focuses on the whole person. We will never just look at the injured area in isolation. We will examine your entire body, often from your pelvis to your neck, including your peripheral joints such as shoulders and ankles, and we will address any dysfunction that is present. We use manual techniques to address dysfunction in the body, improve the range of movement in joints and muscles, improve blood flow, reduce inflammation, and promote natural healing. This can help address underlying issues that may have contributed to the injury and can help to speed up recovery.

What are the three phases of healing in a musculoskeletal injury?

Musculoskeletal injuries generally heal in three stages:

  1. Inflammatory Phase: Lasting several days post-injury, this phase sees swelling and pain. It’s the body’s response to begin the initial phase of healing.
  2. Proliferative Phase: Occurring a few days to weeks after injury, this stage involves tissue rebuilding. New blood vessels emerge, and collagen production begins, working to restore the injury site. Pain levels start to decrease.
  3. Remodelling Phase: Extending from weeks to months to sometimes a year, this phase strengthens the new tissue that has been laid down. The body refines and reinforces collagen structures, restoring the injured site so the patient can resume normal everyday activities. Reinjury is common in this phase, and pain can be experienced on an ad hoc basis.

It’s essential for patients to understand these phases of healing to ensure realistic recovery expectations. Your osteopath will advise on the best practices during each stage to ensure a speedy recovery.

Is it normal to experience pain or discomfort after an osteopathic treatment?

Yes, it’s common for patients to experience pain or discomfort following an osteopathic treatment. In some cases, you might actually notice an increase in your symptoms or pain levels post-treatment. This reaction is usually short-lived, typically occurring within the first 24 hours and subsiding within the next 48 hours. This is your immune system responding, which indicates your body is adapting and healing in relation to the treatment.

Should you have any concerns or if discomfort persists beyond this period, it’s important to reach out to your osteopath. They are available to offer further advice and support as your body navigates through the healing process.

Is it normal to experience pain or discomfort during the healing process?

Pain or discomfort is natural and is expected as the injury heals. As you progress through the three phases of healing, pain levels should start to decrease as the injured tissues heal. Re-injury during recovery is, however, very common throughout the healing process, as the tissues have not fully healed. Remembering that pain is part of the healing process is also essential.


Does a high level of pain indicate a more significant injury?

A common misconception is that pain intensity directly correlates with the extent of tissue damage or injury severity. In reality, pain is not an accurate measurement of tissue damage in the area. It is a signal from the brain encouraging you to take action and care for your body. Therefore, your injury could have been around for some time before you started to experience pain.

I have no pain. Does that mean my injury has fully healed?

Not necessarily; the absence of pain does not indicate that an injury is fully healed. It is very common for patients to have significant dysfunction in their body without experiencing any pain. These dysfunctions need to be addressed through osteopathic treatment and rehabilitation to ensure that the injury continues to heal fully.

Can stress and negative emotions impact the healing process?

Stress and negative emotions can significantly impact the body’s ability to heal. Chronic stress can lead to elevated cortisol levels, which can delay the healing process, increase pain levels, and exacerbate inflammation. Addressing and managing these emotional and psychological factors is essential as they can influence the overall recovery process and general well-being.


What can I do at home to support my body’s natural healing process?

Adhering to your osteopath’s treatment plan is essential so that your injury will heal as quickly as possible.  Ensuring proper nutrition, watching your posture, maintaining hydration, getting adequate sleep, and following your osteopath’s advice and rehabilitation exercises will also support the body’s healing process.

Are there any activities or movements I should avoid while recovering?

Specific movements or activities might exacerbate your condition depending on the nature and severity of your injury. However, movement is fundamental during recovery. Walking and gentle stretching can be beneficial and are usually encouraged throughout the healing process. The most important guideline, however, is to listen to your body. If a particular movement or exercise amplifies your pain or discomfort, it’s best to avoid it. Always consult your osteopath before resuming or trying new exercise regimes during your recovery.

When can I expect to return to my normal daily activities or sports?

Returning to activities depends on the nature and severity of your injury. It’s essential to have a phased return, where you gradually load the inured areas under guidance from your osteopath to ensure you don’t impact the healing process.

How can I reduce the risk of re-injury in the future?

Regular osteopathic check-ups, adhering to prescribed rehabilitation exercises, maintaining good posture, and participating in overall strength and conditioning training during the third healing phase can help reduce the risk of future injuries.

Are there any dietary changes that can assist in the healing process?

Yes, diet plays a pivotal role in the healing process. The right nutrients can aid tissue repair, reduce inflammation, and bolster immune function. Some recommendations include increasing protein intake, as proteins are the building blocks for tissue repair. Consume omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, walnuts and flaxseeds and can help reduce inflammation. Limit processed foods, sugars, and alcohol, as these can also exacerbate inflammation and hinder healing.

Please do not hesitate to contact our clinic if you have any concerns or questions regarding your injury or the healing process. Your osteopath is here to help and will promptly address any issues or provide further guidance as needed.

Email: [email protected]

Phone: 027 7 555700

Better Health Osteopathy

Lorraine Herity is the Clinic Director of Better Health Osteopathy in Christchurch, New Zealand. She previously worked in Osteopathic clinics in London and Ireland, before moving to New Zealand. Lorraine trained at the British School of Osteopathy in London, where she gained her Master of Osteopathy (M.Ost). Lorraine is a dedicated and passionate Osteopath. Her main aim is to help her patients regain their health and to return her patients back to their everyday activities, in as quick a time as possible. Lorraine is also a clinic tutor on the Osteopathic Course in Ara and relishes the opportunity to teach the next generation of osteopaths.