After a joint replacement surgery, you might think your troubles are over — but do not breathe a sigh of relief just yet. Aside from putting in the work to fully recover, you will need to take careful measures to ensure your new joint lasts as long as possible.
You might be eager to start using your new joint already. To keep healing and improving, here are the things you need to consider to maintain yourself after a joint replacement.
The first step to being able to use your new joint is to make a full postsurgical recovery. Don’t be passive in your healing. You must be proactive, so you can heal properly. Here are some ways to help you make a full recovery.
Ice & Elevation
Swelling in the affected area is normal. You must ice the area several times a day. Elevate your leg above heart level, as well. Do both four to five times for 30 to 60 minutes every day. It will help reduce swelling and lower the risk of blood clots.
Keep your dressing clean by following your doctor’s instructions on changing it regularly. It’s normal for the surgical area to bruise or swell. Make sure you’re icing and elevating the area as much as advised. If you feel warmth or redness at the surgical site, or have discharge from it, talk to your doctor immediately, as these are signs of infection.
Physical therapy usually begins within 24 hours after surgery. Your physical therapist will create an exercise routine to help you regain strength and mobility. If needed, they will also help you walk with a walker or crutches.
Quitting smoking helps maintain your health after surgery. Avoid smoky environments, as well, since secondhand smoke is not good for your health either.
Returning to a normal sleep pattern can be hard after surgery. If you’re struggling to have a restful sleep, avoid taking naps during the day. Proper sleep will help you heal faster and feel better — and it’s good for your overall health. Take pain medications an hour before bedtime, so you can relax, control pain, and fall asleep easier.
Maintain A Healthy Weight
Excess weight puts stress on your new joint. Maintaining a healthy weight can remove the extra strain on your joint, preventing it from wearing out faster. A dietitian could help design a healthy and sustainable weight loss diet for you.
Some facets of your postoperative diet are ideal and encouraged even after fully recovering. Here are the things you’ll need to include in your diet to maintain your health.
Hydration helps decrease nausea from anesthesia and medications. It also helps prevent or get rid of constipation, a common side effect of anesthesia and drugs.
Drinking too much water without electrolytes can throw off the balance of electrolytes within your body. Anesthesia might cause fluid shifts, and electrolyte intake could help maintain the balance. Pedialyte is a good source of hydration without too many added sugars.
Iron Rich Foods
After surgery, it’s best to stock up on iron-rich foods to build up your blood stores. These include red meats, leafy greens, beans, and dried fruit.
Swelling and bruising may occur after surgery. Anti-inflammatory foods could combat these side effects. Foods high in antioxidants include pomegranates, red cherries, beets, and vegetables. Steer clear from foods high in processed sugar.
Eating the right foods can help you get in the best shape — even beyond surgery and recovery. Here are the foods you must have in a balanced diet:
- Proteins (e.g. soy, dairy, beans, eggs, cottage cheese, poultry, fish, meat, nuts)
- Vitamin C (e.g. citrus fruits, vegetables, berries, potatoes)
- Vitamin D (e.g. orange juice, almond milk)
- Calcium (e.g. dairy products, spinach, kale, chia seeds)
- Fiber (e.g. fruits, vegetables, spinach, broccoli, apples, oat and wheat bran, beans)
Joint replacement could help you return to an active lifestyle, but the new joint doesn’t work by itself. If you want to be able to use your joint optimally, you would need to commit to an exercise program to maintain the health of your body and your new joint.
Here are some recommendations to break a sweat:
Aerobic activities are designed to get your heart rate up. To get your ticker pumping, try walking, bicycling, or using an elliptical machine. You could alternate between different activities.
Strength, flexibility, and balance exercises
Bone density and muscle mass decline with age. If you want to slow the process down, perform focused strength and balance exercises two to three times a week. Flexibility exercises should become part of your daily routine.
Joint Replacement Surgery In Little Rock, AR
Good health after a joint replacement surgery is a commitment you make to yourself. By taking care of your health, you’ll be able to maintain your health and prolong the life of your new joint.
Here at Bowen Hefley Orthopedics, we are deeply committed to providing compassionate and personalized care. Our board-certified orthopedic surgeon, Dr. William Hefley, and his team take pride in offering only the most comprehensive care — from pre-surgery to post-surgery guidance and joint maintenance.