The Asbury Perspective

A Magic Pill for Elective Surgery?

Posted in: Aging Well

how to prepare for knee and hip replacements and other elective surgeries

Surgery takes a toll on your body, and as we age, the amount of time it takes to bounce back from injury or trauma lengthens. It is not uncommon for people to put off elective surgeries such as knee or hip replacements due to uncertainty about how long and how well they will recover. But imagine there was a pill you could take prior to surgery that would dramatically improve your outcome. You can stop imagining. It is called exercise.

Here are its benefits:

  • raise good cholesterol and lower blood pressure
  • boost your mood and mental skills
  • improve your sleep
  • condition your heart and lungs
  • strengthen your bones, muscles and joints
  • improve your flexibility

Strengthening your upper body allows you to maneuver better using crutches or other assistive devices. Further, a stronger core and arms help compensate for any short-term losses to strength in your lower body – such as those that come hip or knee replacements.

  • Flexibility and stretching exercises build up the muscles around your joints and improve your overall mobility.
  • Lower-body strengthening exercises also increase mobility and help improve balance so you’re less likely to fall.
  • Both types of exercise can help reduce post-surgical rehabilitative therapy.

Prepare in other ways, too.

  • If you’re overweight, surgery is a terrific reason to lose some, especially if you have osteoarthritis of the knee. A 2005 Wake Forest University study found that losing one pound took four pounds of compressive pressure off the knee joint – or 4,800 pounds per mile walked.

Acknowledging and finding ways to cope with the anxiety that often precedes surgery is important, too. Taking an active rather than a passive role in the process can lessen that anxiety. Talk to your physician about the amount of recovery time that is likely to be necessary and then make a plan to prepare for it. Focus on the surgery’s success rate and success stories – and what your life will be like post-recovery.

Eating healthy is always important, and pre-surgery is no time to let down your guard. Lots of water, limited amounts of alcohol and high-fiber, nutrient-rich foods do a body good.

Commit to these common-sense steps and you will be on your way to a healthier and happier future.


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