Recovery After Total Joint Replacement
People seek out total joint replacement surgery to restore function to damaged joints, often due to arthritis or injury. The average recovery can take 6-8 weeks but can vary based on the individual’s pre-existing health, adherence to post-surgical protocols, and the surgeon’s expertise. After a joint replacement, patients undergo a period of rehabilitation to regain strength, mobility, and function in the area treated. This can be a challenging time for both recovering patients and caregivers. However, adopting a healthy diet during this time can be beneficial for recovery.
Can the right foods speed up recovery?
After a total joint replacement surgery, the body needs more nutrients to recover. Research shows that surgery causes stress on the body, elevating metabolism and increasing the demand for calories. The doctor will recommend a liquid diet for the first few hours after the surgery. However, once the patient is cleared to eat solids, here are some excellent foods that will help speed up the healing process.
Protein provides the building blocks for the body to grow and repair tissue, especially after surgery. Muscle loss is also common after surgery as the body focuses on healing. Meat, fish, eggs, dairy, nuts, and seeds are good sources of high-quality protein. Incorporating these protein-rich foods into every meal is crucial to rebuilding muscle mass that may have decreased due to inactivity. Vegan and whey protein shakes can also provide a liquid boost of protein.
Strong bones are also essential for a full recovery. Lack of calcium can lead to bone loss and potential complications such as fractures, deformities, and osteoarthritis. The bones surrounding the new joint need to remain strong, especially during physical therapy. Dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt are loaded with calcium. Vegans can also find calcium in dark leafy greens, seeds, and fortified nut milk.
Focus on healthy fats
Omega-3 fatty acids help improve immune function and promote heart health. Research shows that this supplement also reduces inflammation and boosts cellular immunity. These benefits can help prevent infections after surgery, speeding up recovery. Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, and trout are excellent sources of omega-3. Other sources of healthy fats include avocados, nuts, seeds, olive oil, and flaxseed oil.
Supplement with vitamins
Some patients are unable to get sufficient nutrients from food alone. In this case, the doctor or pharmacist may prescribe nutritional supplements. Vitamins C, E, and D promote healing and improve bone strength. Vitamin D, in particular, is helpful for calcium absorption in bones. Minerals such as bioavailable magnesium help increase energy levels and reduce muscle cramps and spasms. Iron, another vital mineral, can replenish blood lost during the operation. Always ask a doctor before taking any new supplement.
Eat, supplement, and recover
Total joint replacement is an effective procedure that requires substantial recovery time. Even via minimally invasive means, the patient needs some degree of recovery. Patients may experience pain and discomfort during this period, so quality rest is essential. Focus on eating lots of protein, calcium, and healthy fats for faster recovery. Keep active to promote blood circulation and prevent blood clots. Take supplements that have crucial vitamins and minerals for an extra boost. With the right combination, a seamless recovery is possible.