If you read the healing vs. cure article, then you already know that healing and curing a problem in the body is not the same. To cure something is to take away the cause of the affliction that harms the body so it will never come back. Healing is the process of becoming whole again. Without getting too deep into what “becoming whole” means, let’s simply say that the injured parts of the body become restored to its prior state.
Let’s move on to an example of an injury; sciatica, pain running down the back of your right leg. It hurts to sit too long, stand too long, as well as everything else you do and don’t do. Classic sciatica cases are caused by an irritation of the sciatic nerve. This may go on for 6 weeks and then all of a sudden the symptoms go away. Two more weeks later and still no symptoms. So, would you say that you are healed or are you recovered?
Now, I will explain what is means to recover. Recovery is part of the process that happens gradually like healing, but it constitutes what you do to rebuild your abilities back to what you consider normal. The word that describes the process of recovery is called rehabilitation. To physically rehabilitate the body is to recover the various measures of physical capacity that you need to return to a prior level of function such as strength, power, speed, flexibility, stability, coordination, agility and balance.
Back to our question, if your sciatica symptoms resolve then maybe your nerve has healed, returning to a state of wholeness. The body on the other hand, may not have recovered. That is because for many people with sciatica, you are unable to maintain the level of physical activity you could do from before the injury. This naturally results in lost muscle strength, flexibility, and coordination during the “resting” period. In order to recover from sciatica, you will need time to rebuild your muscles to support the activity you need and want to return to.
My PT understands that healing an injury takes time and during that time the body is asked to progressively re-acclimate to life, the way it was before being hurt. During the “rest” time there is much you can learn about your injury including how to go about recovering from day one of being injured. Managing symptoms without drugs, stimulating neuromuscular units to prevent muscle atrophy, mobilizing joints to prevent stiffness and retraining the movement patterns you need to return to the function you remember.
So the next time you personally experience an injury or know someone who is dealing with an injury, consider the period of time it takes to heal as well as the necessary steps it will take to also successfully recover.