Any surgery, no matter how minor or how necessary, can be traumatic for the body. This is especially true if you or the person you are caring for is older or dealing with additional ailments. While most of us focus on the upcoming surgery, knowing what is to come after the surgery and being able to prepare yourself for the taxing process of recovery is just as important.
Preparing Mentally and Emotionally
Any orthopedic surgery can be anxiety inducing, but often times the recovery after the surgery can be just as emotionally draining as it is physically draining. The time to prepare yourself for this is before you go into your surgery. Make sure you ask your doctor and care staff what they think the process of recovery might look like for you. Some questions to ask before the surgery include:
- What is the normal recovery time? And what sort of benchmarks will help me see my progress?
- What sort of rehab is typical and how much time will you need to dedicate to rehab once you have healed from the initial surgery?
- What sort of physical limitations will you have to deal with during your recovery? Will you be able to walk, drive, etc.? What sort of accommodations do people typically need to get back to their daily lives once their bodies have come through the initial trauma of surgery?
Asking these questions can help you get a better sense of your recovery and prevents you from being surprise by any unforeseen obstacles.
It’s important to remember that orthopedic surgery is a traumatic experience for the body, regardless of how healthy you are going into the surgery. The initial phase of recovery will be spent trying to give your body as much support as you can so it can effectively do the important work of regeneration. This includes eating well and often increasing your lean protein intake to help your body regenerate some of the tissue, muscles, tendons and/or ligaments that have been damaged during surgery. Getting enough sleep is another way to make sure your body has enough energy to recover effectively. During the initial recovery phase, it is also important to try and move the body parts that weren’t directly affected by the surgery. This will keep blood flowing, which aids in the body’s recovery process, and will set you up for the next step of the process: rehabilitation and physical therapy.
Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy
After the body recovers from the initial trauma of surgery you will be ready for rehabilitation of muscles, tensions and ligaments involved in the surgery. There are three main stages of rehabilitation.
- Regaining motion: During this stage you will work with a physical therapist on regaining normal movement in the surgically repaired area. This stage involves mostly gentle, passive movements, often assisted by a therapist, so as not to overexert and aggravate the muscles, ligaments and tendons in the area you are rehabbing.
- Active range of motion: This stage is similar to the previous one, except that the exercises involved tend to be less passive. This simply means that you will begin using your own muscles, in the surgically repaired area, to try increase your range of motion.
- Strengthening: In this stage you will not only be doing exercises on the surgically repaired area, but you will add so sort of resistance. This can be done with elasticized bands, light weights, or simply using gravity to add resistance. This will help reengage those muscles, ligaments and tendons that have mostly been dormant.
Only your doctor and physical therapist can tell you when it is time to move to this phase of recovery and how quickly to progress.
This blog contains discussion about health-related subjects, and is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnose or treat any disease or illness. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please contact your doctor immediately or call 9-1-1.