Recovery after Surgery

Making the decision to have orthopedic surgery can be difficult. There are many things that need to be considered including recovery time, who can help you out at home, and if will you have any limitations afterwards. The biggest question we receive once someone has decided to have surgery is “when will I get better”. Setting your recovery expectation before having surgery can make your recovery easier if you understand what is going to happen along the way.

                Orthopedic surgeries can vary vastly depending on the joint involved and the extent of work that needs to be done. A knee arthroscopy to remove torn meniscus will not be as extensive as a total joint replacement. However there are some things that will remain the same. Healing takes place in phases.  The initial phase is hemostasis, which essentially is stopping the bleeding. Wound closures can vary from small portal sites to larger incision sites which require multiple sutures. The wound closure can take up 10 days to heal completely. We will typically see our post-operative patients at 2 weeks after surgery to have their sutures removed. The joint is maximally protected during this time to prevent excess movement and friction at the wound closure site to allow for optimal healing. This may mean being in a brace or splint to prevent movement at the joint for those first two weeks after surgery.

                The next phase of healing is the inflammatory phase. This is immediately after surgery where the body produces an inflammatory response to clear out the unhealthy tissue and allow for healing to take place. Damaged cells are cleared away to make way for remodeling. Inflammation does not always mean swelling. Inflammation is necessary for healing. However, doing too much after surgery can lead to excess inflammation which can become chronic and inhibit the healing response.

                Finally comes the remodeling and rebuilding phase. New vessels are being formed, healthy tissue is being laid down, bone becomes stronger, and we slowly introduce the joint to more activity. This can take months to complete.

                The bottom line is that healing takes time. Everyone’s body responds to things differently.  Every surgery has a protocol to follow in order to stay in line with the stages of healing. It is very important to follow the protocol and advice given by your surgeon. Here at Sports and Orthopaedic Specialist, we make sure that patients understand the recovery process and what is to be expected after each surgery.   

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Nicole D'Apice PA-C

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