Preparing for your surgical recovery at home
If you are preparing for orthopedic or joint surgery with one of our doctors at Tacoma, Gig Harbor or Lakewood, an important phase of your care is giving your body the time it needs to heal during surgical recovery. This reduces the risk of infection and is essential for the overall success of your surgery.
Home is where the recovery is
Just a little advance planning will go a long way in speeding up your surgical recovery at home. Watch this video from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons for useful information. Make sure to talk with your care provider for detailed guidance on how else to plan.
When you first get home, you’ll discover that surgical recovery can be challenging. For the first few weeks, you may find it difficult to accomplish everyday tasks like climbing stairs, cooking or standing for long periods of time. Remember, this is temporary. You will be back to your normal activities in no time.
Follow these dos and don’ts to enhance your orthopedic surgery recovery process.
- DO move around when you are able. Over time, increased mobility prevents post-surgical complications like blood clots and ultimately speeds up recovery time. Movement strengthens energy levels, immunity, and even digestion. If you are ready to get moving but still need help getting in and out of bed, ask for help.
- DON’T do too much too soon. Once you’re feeling better, it can be tempting to overdo it, so be sure to follow your caregiver’s guidelines.
- DO manage and clean your surgery scar to avoid infection.
- DO take your medicine as prescribed to ensure you are not in unnecessary pain. If you have an adverse side effect, including nausea or constipation, talk to your doctor.
- DO attend your physical therapy session to gain mobility and strength.
- DO eat well by getting the right nutrition. Eat protein- and fiber-rich foods, and avoid alcohol and sugary foods.
- DON’T return to work too soon. Talk to your doctor to make sure there are no continued effects from painkillers.
Ask for help when you need it
One of the most important things you can do to help yourself heal faster is to not overdo it too soon. Before you go in for surgery, ask for assistance and find the right medical devices so you have the right kind of help when you most need it.
Extra help around the house
With restricted mobility and range of motion, you’ll find some of your everyday activities are limited. For example, you may need help preparing meals, doing housework, going shopping, and walking the dog. Depending on the surgery, you may also need more personal help with things such as bathing, and getting dressed. Plan in advance to enlist the help of your loved ones or friends to assist you. If you live alone, talk to your care provider about whether you need to hire an extra set of hands, and if insurance will cover in-home care. For more information on how to prepare your home and your caregiver, please read Joint Replacement Surgery: Prepare your caregiver and yourself for a successful outcome
Buy or rent assistive devices and medical equipment
Different types of surgery call for different assistive devices. If you’re having hip or knee replacement, chances are you need to devices to help with your mobility. These could include a hip kit, walker, cane or crutches. If you’re undergoing shoulder or back surgery, a shower chair, grabber/reacher, and a shower brush with long handle will prove helpful. In some cases, you may find that an elevated bed, raised toilet seat or bathroom handrails will help if you can’t bend. Talk to your care provider to find out what will be most helpful to your recovery, and to learn what costs you can expect your insurance to cover. We’ll be happy to give you our recommendations for trusted medical device providers.
Preparing your home for successful post operative recovery
In addition to enlisting help from others as you recover, there are a few practical tasks you can tackle in your home before you go in for surgery:
- Clear the clutter from rooms to allow for easier movement.
- Prepare meals to freeze in advance.
- Organize a command-central location in your home. Your command-central can be a cushy recliner or comfortable couch with blankets. Keep your phone, water, remote, glasses, and medicine handy.
- Find loose-fitting clothes to wear that don’t bind in the wrong places.
- Make sure you have incision care items ready.
Ways to enjoy your downtime
As you recover, you’ll have some extra time on your hands. Above all, do your best to maintain a good attitude. Researchers have found that positive thinking leads to quicker recovery times after surgery, an increased life span, and better cardiovascular health.
You can also look at this as your time to have friends visit and catch up on entertainment while you relax and heal. Here are a few ideas:
- Stream a great movie or binge-watch a TV series.
- Discover new music on your favorite streaming service.
- Check out some new magazines.
- Read that novel you’ve been wanting to make time for. For ideas, check out Goodreads’ best books of the 20th century.
- Listen to a new audio book (some for free) or the many free podcasts available.
- Play board games, card games or video games with visitors.
- Solve a daily crossword puzzle.
- Crafting, scrapbooking and knitting projects.
Recovery time allows your body to heal both properly and quickly. If you have any questions about what else to expect from your surgery and recovery, contact your Puget Sound Orthopaedics care provider. We look forward to helping you achieve your previous level of activity and seeing you post-recovery.