The recovery time for a torn ligament will vary according to several criteria. One's overall health will certainly play a part in torn ligament recovery time, as will a person's age, the severity of the injury, and the location of the injury. Healing time could take anywhere from a couple of weeks to several months, and after healing has occurred, additional recovery time may be necessary in the form of physical therapy and regular exercise and stretching programs. A torn ligament generally takes more time to heal than a torn muscle, and re-injury can occur if one chooses to exercise too much or too early after the injury has occurred.
The severity of the torn ligament will have perhaps the biggest impact on recovery time. Small tears such as sprains — in which the tiny fibers that make up a ligament become slightly torn — can heal in just a few days or weeks without surgery. The RICE treatment is often used; RICE stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. The ligaments will heal on their own given enough time, and the injured person must be careful not to use the joint too soon after the injury has occurred to prevent re-injury.
More severe torn ligament injuries are likely to require surgery; in this case, recovery time can become fairly protracted. Knee ligament injuries often take the most time to heal, since this joint is one of the most often used joints during regular activities such as walking or running. If surgery is necessary to treat a torn ligament, the injured person can expect several weeks to several months of healing time, particularly if the injury is in one of the joints of the leg. It is not uncommon for a person to go through up to six months of healing before the ligament has been fully repaired, and in some cases, a full recovery may not be possible. Torn ligament injuries can be severe enough that a person never recovers full mobility and strength.
The method of surgery will also have an impact on how long recovery will take. Doctors have used several methods of surgery to repair torn ligaments in the past, and while more modern techniques such as tissue grafts have been met with some success, recovery time can still be protracted. Very serious cases may require a total joint replacement; knee replacement surgeries can take up to a year to heal fully, while hip replacements generally take less time to heal.