When your doctor recommends surgery, you’ll have a lot of questions. Whether it’s sudden or planned, it disrupts every bit of the life and schedule we know. It can be difficult, uncomfortable, and even embarrassing sometimes to ask others for help. Even though the surgery itself might be live-saving, the postoperative weeks of recovery are painful, frustrating, and boring as your body heals. So how can you optimize recovery post-surgery and get back to your normal life as rapidly as possible? It goes without saying that following the orders of your doctor and your therapist are of utmost importance – but how else can you help your body heal?
5 Ways to Optimize Recovery Post-Surgery
- Eat Well – “You get out what you put in!” What you eat directly effects your body’s healing process. It is important to fuel your body with proper foods to boost recovery from the stresses of surgery. Protein, Vitamin C, Calcium, and Vitamin D are important components to a healthy, post-surgical diet. It does not matter whether you have had a joint replaced, a bypass operation, or a hysterectomy – your body needs extra nutrients to heal. These nutrients promote remodeling of bones and muscles, help your immune system stay strong to fight infection, stimulate collagen growth for healthy ligaments and tissues, and strengthen your bones to provide a stable framework. Try to stick with natural, whole, and unprocessed foods to maximize nutritional value. We suggest plenty of these foods that promote healing; egg whites, walnuts, almonds, brown rice, fish, and chicken.
- Stay Hydrated – Drinking water can help flush out anesthetics, discharge other toxins, and improve the function of your liver and kidneys. Furthermore, staying hydrated can reduce the risk of complications, including blood clots, following surgery. However, you want avoid drinks with caffeine, alcohol, or high sugar content as these can slow bone healing by depleting your body of key nutrients needed for healing. *Most adults require a daily water intake amount of between nine and 13 cups per day!
- Be Active – While you may feel discomfort throughout your body, it’s still important to get moving. Don’t worry—you don’t need to run a marathon. Get moving as soon as your doctor allows to improve circulation and joint mobility. Getting out of bed or up from the chair multiple times a day to walk helps open up your lungs and pumps blood from your legs back to your heart to decrease the risk of blood clots. In addition, light movement will also help deliver oxygen to tissues to promote healing.
- Get your Rest – Sleep is restorative and the foundation of good health. In order to recover, the body triggers a fatigue response so that the person will be encouraged to rest. Undergoing surgery where the body is given medications and disturbed by procedures can cause fatigue as the body enters into the repairing and healing mode. During sleep, proteins and antibodies that fight infection and promote healing are released by our body’s immune system. Lack of sleep reduces the production of these protective substances making it harder to recover and has been shown to delay rebuilding of good tissue.
- Reduce Stress – Staying calm and relaxed enhances the immune system and can even reduce the need for pain medication. Stress (both from the surgery and from life surrounding surgery) inhibits the body’s ability to fight off toxins and other foreign substances. With increased stress, it becomes difficult to control inflammation, making recovery more challenging and delaying healing times. Try these suggestions to promote relaxation: take 10 deep breaths every hour, listen to music to elevate your mood, and remember that laughter is the best medicine. Make reducing stress a priority when it comes to recovery.
While you can’t always control your health, you can take steps to optimize your recovery post-surgery – and Axes is here to help! By combining these wellness techniques at home with a well-constructed physical therapy program, you can speed the process in returning to independence and previous activities in your normal daily life after surgery. Request an appointment online today!