Whether you’re scheduled for a knee replacement or a hip replacement, you may worry about your recovery and when you can return to your normal activities. While Andrew B. Richardson, MD, gives you an estimate, your total recovery time depends on several variables that you control. These are the top five tips you can follow for a faster recovery.
Optimize your health before surgery
People who are healthy and active before surgery recover more quickly after their joint replacement procedure. If you’re sedentary, increasing your activity in the months before surgery helps prepare you for recovery.
Making these three lifestyle changes before surgery also leads to a faster recovery:
- Losing weight if necessary
- Stopping smoking
- Maintaining normal blood sugar if you’re diabetic
Smoking, high blood sugar, and being overweight increase your risk of infection and slow down healing.
Manage your pain
You may believe in pushing through the pain, but after surgery is not the time to follow that principle. It’s important to be honest about your level of pain and let us help you keep it under control. When pain lasts too long, it rewires your central nervous system, making your nerves hypersensitive and putting you at risk for pain that lasts longer than it should.
Here’s another vital reason to manage your pain: Your recovery rate hinges on your ability to fully participate in physical therapy. If you’re in too much pain, you may struggle to do the exercises needed to regain your strength and mobility as quickly as possible.
Engage in physical therapy
A speedy recovery depends on moving your body and your new joint. Movement stimulates blood flow, reduces inflammation, and boosts healing.
Your recovery begins while you’re still in the hospital, when the medical team helps you walk. After you leave the hospital, expect to use an assistive device for a while and participate in physical therapy and home exercise.
Physical therapy initially focuses on range of motion exercises and gait training so you can get used to walking using your new joint. As you’re ready, you start strengthening exercises and gradually return to your normal activities. Your physical therapist also gives you exercises to do at home. The more strictly you follow your regimen, the faster you recover.
Don’t do more exercise than recommended
While you need physical therapy and home exercise, it’s just as important to only participate in the exercises and activities that we approve. The type and amount of exercise that’s safe during your recovery depends on the type of joint replacement, the complexity of your surgery, and your overall health. Doing too much too soon can irritate the surgery site, reinjure the joint, and lengthen your recovery.
Get plenty of rest and eat well
With today’s advanced surgical techniques, such as outpatient joint replacement, patients fly through surgery without problems. But surgery, and the healing that follows, places incredible stress on your body. If you want to recover as quickly as possible, you need to listen to your body. If you’re tired, you should rest as much as needed.
The process of healing also demands calories to support energy production and essential nutrients. Your body uses more nutrients during your recovery. If you don’t get adequate nutrition, you can quickly develop deficiencies that slow down your recovery.
We can help you with any questions you may have about your diet during your recovery. As a general guideline, you need to stay hydrated and give your body enough calories, protein, calcium, zinc, vitamin C, iron, vitamin B12, and vitamin A to support healing.
To learn more about joint replacements and the recovery process, call Andrew B. Richardson, MD, or schedule an appointment online.