Preparing for surgery is essential to ensuring a quick and positive recovery journey. These four tips can help improve healing and recovery after orthopedic surgery.
Any surgery is scary – even the most benign and routine surgery carries risk and can be distressing to the patient, even if it seems simple and harmless to the surgeon. And orthopedic surgery is often not simple and easy. It’s one of the more complex and challenging types of surgery out there. The person scheduled for surgery is definitely going to be nervous, both about the surgery and the recovery afterward.
The best way to ensure that your actual surgery goes well is to have the best surgeon available to you do the job. Once you’re on the table, you don’t have a whole lot of control over the actual procedure. But when it comes to recovery, you do have a lot of control over how you handle it, and taking the right steps during recovery can help to ensure that you heal both well and efficiently.
So what makes for a healing recovery after orthopedic surgery, and what can you do to make sure that you heal faster and more efficiently than you would have otherwise? Take a look at some of the most important tips for faster healing and recovery after orthopedic surgery.
1. Doctor’s Orders
“Follow the doctor’s orders” may sound like a no-brainer, but you might be surprised by how many people just don’t do the things that their doctor tells them to, for any number of reasons. Different orthopedic surgeries and different surgeons have different protocols, so your specific set of instructions might be different from someone else’s, but you can be sure that your doctor gives them to you for a reason. Don’t ignore them.
2. Manage Your Pain
There is a lot of controversy and stigma around pain medication and pain relief techniques, so it can be tough to know what the right thing to do is. But remaining in pain is almost certainly not the right thing to do. While getting down to no pain at all might be an unreasonable goal immediately following surgery, you do need to manage your pain so that it stays at a reasonable level. Orthopedic surgery recovery is no joke – it takes work. And you won’t be able to do the work that you need to do if you’re in too much pain to move or function.
If you’re the type of person who thinks that taking pain medication makes you weak, it’s time to rethink that. Pain medication can give you the strength you need in order to regain your own strength. Meanwhile, not managing your pain can make you weaker. For example, if you’re in too much pain to get up and walk around as directed after surgery, you’ll be at greater risk for blood clots and even pneumonia. If you are in too much pain to sleep, your body won’t get the rest it needs in order to heal properly.
If you’re concerned about addiction or other health consequences of taking pain medication, it’s important to discuss this with your care team. You may need to have your use of pain medication closely monitored, you may benefit from alternative methods of pain relief, or you may need other types of support.
Whatever you need, it’s important to speak up and be sure that you get it. Do not try to just tough it out on your own. Good pain management is crucial to recovery.
3. Do Your Exercises
You will definitely have exercises assigned to you after your orthopedic surgery, whether or not you were in the habit of doing them before the surgery. Exactly what those exercises are will depend on the type of surgery, your overall physical condition, what type of exercise regimen you had prior to the surgery, and other factors.
But rest assured, you will be doing some type of exercise. And whatever exercises that your medical team recommends are really going to matter to your recovery. It’s how you encourage blood flow and healing to the area of the body that you’re working on and how you regain your strength. Restorative exercises are very important to your recovery.
It’s not impossible that you may find that some exercises are too difficult, or that you notice that some aren’t doing you much good. The important thing is not to just stop doing them. Ask for support from your medical team. Talk to your physical therapist and your doctor. You may need different exercises, different instructions, or different assistive devices. Don’t give up, dig in instead.
4. Eat and Sleep Well
Eating and sleeping probably don’t sound like recovery activities at all! But they are, of course. They can be pleasurable activities, but that’s not why you do them or why you’ve ever done them. You do them because you have to. Have you ever skipped a few meals in a row or spent a few sleepless nights? Many people have. If you have, you probably remember feeling pretty lousy soon after – maybe as soon as the first missed meal or the day after the missed night’s sleep.
You need food and rest to be healthy. And, especially post orthopedic surgery, you need good food and good quality rest. This is not the time to stuff your body with junk or try to get by on cat naps. Instead, this is the time to eat healthy whole foods including lean meats and fresh vegetables, and to practice good sleep habits and hygiene – a comfortable bed, a darkened room, and a lower temperature for the night are some examples. Food is fuel and sleep is restorative. You need them both to get better.
Perhaps most importantly, ask for help when you need it. This may mean asking your doctors for help with exercises and medications or asking your friends and family to help you with rides, cooking, or just emotional support. It could even mean taking advantage of the support offered by a recovery retreat whose staff is trained to help give you the support you need during the post-surgical period.
For proper healing and recovery from orthopedic surgery, visit Pearl Recovery Retreat. Our orthopedic rehabilitation services will ensure that you are taken care of during your recovery period.