Once people have got their joint replacement surgery out of the way, there is a tendency to breathe a sigh of relief and think “that’s that”.
However, there is still an important part of the healing process to go and physical rehabilitation plays a vital role in that. If you are given physical rehab exercises to do, it’s important to do them and here’s why.
Reasons for rehab
After surgery it is essential to build up strength in the muscles around the new joint to relearn joint control, which helps hold it in place and speed your recovery. Physical rehabilitation helps in a number of different ways:
- It eases pain and reduces swelling.
- It builds up strength in the joint and surrounding muscles.
- It restores normal control and movement in your joint.
- It helps you get back to normal and makes day-to-day activities easier.
- It helps to prevent blood clots by improving circulation.
The recommended rehab regime will vary from person to person, depending on the type of surgery you have undergone, your age and your general level of fitness. You may be given some basic movements to repeat as part of your everyday activities as well as specific physical rehabilitation exercises.
Soon after surgery, normally on the same day, you will be encouraged to get up and about and start moving your joint. You may be able to stand and take a few steps, with some support.
Rehab in hospital
While you are in hospital, you will be given crutches or a mobility walker to help you to get around. You will also be shown some simple exercises by a physiotherapist to start to get your joint moving and increase circulation to the area.
Rehab at home
Once you are home, it is important to follow the exercise regime set for you. This will normally be a combination of movements for 20-30 minutes at a time, completed two or three times a day.
When you start off you may only be able to do five minutes at a time but if you repeat the exercises regularly you will be able to build up to the full 20-30 minutes.
It is a good idea to walk in between times to build up your stamina and fitness. You can use a walking stick to support you until you feel strong and confident enough to walk on your own.
Developing a habit of walking regularly will help to maintain fitness levels even after you have recovered from surgery.
The recovery process
Recovery is a physical and emotional process, the importance of which should not be underestimated. In days gone by, people would travel to the seaside to rest and recuperate from illness or surgery but in our fast-paced world this is not possible for most people.
There is a tendency to think our bodies will simply heal themselves and, of course, they will but we can help them to heal faster, better and more completely by taking time out to care for ourselves and support our rehabilitation. It will make a big difference in the long-term.