Patients who’ve had surgery should ease back into movement and exercise.
These efforts may be small, but they’re better than nothing, according to one surgeon who emphasized the importance of listening to your body.
“The most important thing is patient comfort. After surgery, there is often this apprehension of, ‘If I move or do something, I will hurt or damage the area where I had surgery,'” says Dr. Adil Ahmed, an assistant professor in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. “We must counsel patients pre-op and post-op, telling them what is safe to do in terms of physical activity because they should be mobile.”
Tips for post-op recovery
Start by doing small tasks after surgery. For shoulder replacement patients in a sling and with limited mobility for four weeks, move your fingers, open and close your hands, squeeze a stress ball and flex and extend the wrist and elbow, Ahmed suggested. This can keep the joints from getting stiff and prevent swelling.
“In those first four weeks, you’re doing very gentle, rotational motions because you want everything to heal, and then you progress in therapy and remove those restrictions,” he said in a Baylor news release. “Once your motion begins to improve, you begin strengthening.”
If your arm is in a sling, just focus on getting out of bed on your own, going to the bathroom alone or putting on and taking off clothes and shoes.
After that, you can slowly start going back into physical activity, such as walking with gentle motion.
Modify your exercise routine during recovery by focusing on the areas that you can move instead of being sedentary, Ahmed advised.
After a shoulder replacement, use your free arm to hold a broomstick and move it around. Progressively start using heavier sticks to strengthen the other arm.
If it’s your wrist or elbow that’s healing, focus on working your legs and core. You can gradually start