Is It Time For Joint Replacement Surgery?
Joint replacement surgery helps people with arthritis, injuries, and other conditions where the joints no longer function well. The damaged cartilage and bone are removed, and new artificial joints are installed. Joint replacement is common in the hip, knee, and ankle but can happen on other joints too. This procedure has been around for years, but recent technological advances have made joint replacements safer and faster to perform. However, patients can still experience pain during recovery. Doctors will therefore recommend supporting the joint with strategic stretching exercises.
How can stretching help?
Tissue tends to shrink in response to tension, which can put additional stress on the surrounding joints, causing pain and stiffness. Stretching addresses this issue by improving flexibility in the joints and muscles. Additionally, by extending and activating the muscles, more blood flows to these areas. Regular stretching also helps prevent injuries and the recurrence of joint pain. For people recovering from same-day joint replacement surgery, stretching can be an excellent way to help reduce pain and stiffness in the joint. Specific stretches can also improve range of motion (ROM), promoting faster healing after surgery. However, following specific stretching techniques is crucial to ensure that the joints and tissues are not overworked.
One of the most critical elements for a successful same-day joint replacement surgery is a pre-habilitation (pre-hab) protocol. Pre-hab is an exercise program that starts several weeks before surgery. The goal of pre-hab is to strengthen the muscles around the affected joint. As a result, there will be no weak links that might cause injury during or after the surgery. Pre-habilitation is also designed to improve overall flexibility and mobility of the joint, leading to a faster recovery after surgery. To accomplish this, patients are taught specific at-home exercises and stretching techniques to prepare for surgery and improve recovery.
Stretch it out
Take things easy after same-day joint replacement surgery. Before stretching, a proper warm-up is crucial to avoid injuring the muscles and causing more damage to the joints. Some practical techniques include hip, hamstring, adductor, side, and calf stretches. The physical therapist may give other specific stretches and exercises depending on the type of surgery performed. Patients should follow all instructions and avoid activities that may cause further injury to the joints and muscles. If any stretches cause pain, stop and check with the doctor before proceeding.
Time to get moving
Since the surgical team discharges the patient the same day, post-operative care, recovery, and rehabilitation mostly happen at home. Stretching is one of the best ways to help manage pain and stiffness after a joint replacement. Some patients believe that post-operative care only consists of rest. However, too much rest can increase the chances of pain, so it’s important to incorporate movement slowly. With the physical therapist’s help, patients can learn specific stretches to perform at the right times. If the correct exercises are done as advised, the success rate of surgery increases significantly.