Optimal Recovery from Surgery

Having an optimal recovery from surgery requires planning and preparation. It’s important to talk with your surgeon and develop a strategy to manage pain. Here are some tips for reducing post-surgical pain.

Q. What can be done before surgery to prepare?

Exercise* can be helpful because it can stimulate the body’s natural ability to heal, thereby reducing nerve damage. If you are a smoker, quitting can also help. Smoking and nicotine can cause damage to blood vessels, nerves and skin. Stopping even two weeks prior to surgery can reduce complications and improve healing.

Q. How can diet affect recovery?

Patients require a large amount of protein and complex carbohydrates to heal from surgery. An increase in healthy intake should begin at least two weeks before a planned operation and in conjunction with exercise. Make sure you discuss this with your doctor. For elderly patients, protein shakes can be used to supplement your regular diet.

Q. What can be done to relieve pain after surgery?

After surgery, activity is the key. The faster you get moving, the more circulation returns to the injured area and the faster nerves heal. In addition, walking stimulates core muscle to function, which acts to reduce the inflammatory signal caused by the surgery itself. Also, meditation, massage, Reiki and even chewing gum can sometimes help.

Q. What pain medications might be used?

Narcotics are often the last resort, as they may have significant side effects and often slow healing. Today there are long-acting injections that can relieve pain for days to weeks. Surgeons can also insert catheters into the incision site to deliver medicines to the exact nerves damaged at the time of surgery. Additionally, anti-inflammatory medications may be used to reduce the cause of pain.

Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation

Sometimes physical therapy or cardiac rehabilitation can help. Physical therapists are specialized in helping post-operative patients with their recovery. While many patients will not like being active just after surgery, the exercises are designed to expedite the healing process and reduce the time patients have pain and dysfunction.

* Before starting a new exercise routine, consult your doctor.