How to Speed Up Your Post-Op Recovery
When you really think about it, it is no wonder that you are in pain and have swelling after surgery, so may levels of tissue in your body are disrupted - sometimes all the way down to the bone! While pain/soreness is unavoidable, there are ways to help speed up your recovery and get back in action.
1. Follow your Surgeon’s Instructions: Your surgeon has a reason for the instructions he/she gives and often it is to protect the repaired tissue to avoid any complications/revisions. That means to avoid having to fix or repeat the surgery. You do not want this! Take notes or have someone with you if instructions are being given to you after surgery. If you have a question about a certain activity, call your surgeon’s office and leave a message.
2. Eat a Well-Balanced Diet: Food is your body’s fuel and your body is recovering from some major trauma, so you should feed it right. Make sure you get plenty of protein to help with the healing process. Unless directed to do so, opt for water over salty sports drinks - some sources state these drinks can cause you to retain fluids. Also, get plenty of fiber. After surgery you may be prescribed pain medication and fiber will help to keep things moving along through your digestive tract.
3. Move it!: While it is tempting to lie on the couch all day when you are sore (and also important to rest), try to keep moving. Ask your surgeon for physical restrictions and allowed activities after surgery. Walking is a great way to increase blood flow and healing, and will also help avoid complications from bed rest such as blood clots, constipation, and more. You will also need controlled movement such as gentle stretching or exercise for optimal healing of soft tissue structures. This is where your physical therapist comes in. He/she will know the safe and correct ways to stress your tissues to encourage healing and recovery.
4. Manage Swelling and Support Healing: While it is important to move, its also important to rest adequately. To reduce swelling elevate the affected area and use ice and compression. Sometimes, if allowed, simple exercises and gentle massage may help.
5. Give Attention to Scars: Without the correct stress, a scar can heal improperly as well. A scar should close up without signs of infection but remain pliable. This can be obtained through gentle massage across the scar and range of motion activities - ask your physical therapist!
6. Pre-Op Physical Therapy: Physical therapy prior to surgery can help you become strong and flexible prior to surgery improving outcomes and recovery time. Your surgeon may recommend this, and depending upon laws in your state and insurance, you can see your physical therapist directly prior to getting a physician authorization to see of you would be an appropriate candidate for physical therapy.
Remember: listen to your health care team, ask questions, and be an active participant in your post-op physical therapy treatment. You’ll be back to your favorite hobbies and activities in no time!
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