10 Tips to Speed Joint Replacement Recovery
Recovery from joint replacement surgery isn’t always easy, but you can hasten the process by becoming an active participant in your healing. Adopt the following 10 strategies to speed up your healing and get back to a normal, pain-free life as soon as possible.
As soon as the doctor says you’re able, even while you’re still in the hospital, walking is critical. It helps prevent the development of blood clots and improves recovery. Walking also keeps the joints limber and improves circulation and the delivery of healing nutrients to your affected joint.
2. Water therapy
Water, especially warm water, stimulates the flow of blood to an injured area. As soon as your doctor clears it, sit in a home bath or sit and submerge the joint in a bucket or shallow tub of warm water.
Massage can be therapeutic as well as relaxing. Once heavy swelling has reduced, lightly massage the replaced joint to make the muscles stronger, break up scar tissue, and encourage circulation.
While you may be eager to push through pain, and some exercise and movement is necessary, balance it with adequate amounts of rest. Rest gives your body a chance to repair itself.
A healthy diet that includes valuable nutrients, such as vitamins C and A, encourages healing. Vitamin C is a critical component in wound healing. Look for it in citrus fruits, strawberries, and broccoli. Vitamin A boosts your body’s ability to produce white blood cells, which fight off infection. Find vitamin A in sweet potatoes and carrots, as well as spinach.
6. Cold therapy
Applying ice packs to the surgical site can help keep swelling down and reduce pain. Place an ice pack on the joint for 15-20 minutes at a time as a way to speed healing.
7. Compression garments
Compression garments and wraps help enhance blood circulation at the affected joint. Consult with your doctor as to the right type of compression product to use and for how long, as too much compression can compromise healing as it restricts your ability to move.
You may benefit from vitamin and mineral supplements. Vitamin E assists with healing, vitamin D supports your bone health, and vitamin C and zinc fight infection. Talk to your doctor about whether these supplements are right for you.
9. Physical therapy
A physical therapist provides a post-surgery plan with specific functional movements to help you return to normal function. It’s crucial you adhere to this plan to speed healing. For example, if you’ve had a knee replacement, you might start with exercises that have you bend and extend your knee and progress to riding a stationary bicycle at a very low resistance for short periods of time.
Exercise is different than the healing movements prescribed by your doctor and therapist. It might include extra walks or riding an elliptical trainer. Adding physical activity, as long as it doesn’t hurt, can help you heal faster and make muscles stronger.
Always review exercises with your doctor in advance, however, to make sure they’re not contraindicated for your condition. Frequency, duration, and the types of exercise you can do safely evolves as you heal. You may not be ready for all your normal activity and certain exercises for four to six weeks, and in some cases even longer.