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Top Tip For Maximising Orthopaedic Surgery Recovery

Surgery recovery
Are you about to undergo orthopaedic surgery? Whether it's a hip replacement, knee replacement, or spinal surgery, there's a crucial step you can take to significantly improve your surgical results and quality of life post-surgery; and that is to have pre-surgical rehabilitation or prehabilitation. This article explores the benefits of incorporating a prehabilitation program into your surgical preparations and provides evidence-based recommendations to maximise your surgery results.

The Importance of Preventative Care

Throughout my career, I have been a strong advocate for preventative medicine. I’ve seen numerous patients who were experiencing pain and disability and needed to undergo hip, knee, or spinal surgery. In many cases, I’ve helped these patients not only reduce their pain but also maintain or even improve their ability to function and engage in daily activities.

These patients have often gone on to achieve excellent improvements in terms of pain reduction and quality of life after their orthopaedic surgery. As a result, I highly recommend incorporating preventative care, including osteopathic treatment and prescribed exercises, before any hip, knee, or spinal surgery.

The Science Behind Pre-Surgical Rehabilitation

Until recently, my recommendations for pre-surgical rehabilitation were primarily based on anecdotal evidence. However, a newly published systematic review and meta-analysis in the Journal of The American Medical Association (JAMA) now provides compelling evidence for the benefits of pre-rehabilitation in orthopaedic surgery.

The review in the world’s leading medical journal analysed 48 unique trials involving 3,570 patients and showed that pre-rehabilitation treatment and exercises lead to improved results before and after hip replacements, knee replacements, or lumbar spinal surgeries.

Specific Benefits of Pre-Surgical Rehabilitation

The study found that pre-surgery rehabilitation is particularly beneficial for patients undergoing lumbar surgery for back pain. It showed strong evidence that lumbar surgery patients experienced improved results in terms of pain reduction and overall well-being. Furthermore, the study revealed that pre-rehabilitation contributed to better post-surgery functionality for patients who had undergone total knee replacement (at six weeks) and lumbar surgery (at six months).

Recommended Pre-Rehabilitation Program

So, how much pre-rehabilitation is necessary to achieve these significant clinical benefits? Based on the reviewed research, the study authors recommend a minimum duration of four to six weeks and two sessions per week for patients due to undergo orthopaedic surgery.

When discussing the dose of prehabilitation, the study authors explained:

“This finding is in accordance with a recent umbrella review of 55 systematic reviews on prehabilitation for patients undergoing major surgical procedures and physiological literature, indicating that four to six weeks of strength training is required to induce neurological and morphological muscular adaptations.”

Optimise Your Orthopaedic Surgery with Pre-Surgical Rehabilitation

If you’re about to undergo orthopaedic surgery, I recommend that you consider incorporating a pre-surgical rehabilitation program into your preparation. Allow four to six weeks, and plan to have two sessions per week. This evidence-based approach can significantly improve your results and overall quality of life both before and after surgery. Schedule a consultation with me to discuss how pre-surgical rehabilitation can help you prepare for your surgery to maximise your surgery recovery and optimise the results.

Picture of Alan Szmelskyj DO, MSc, Adv Dip Clin Hyp, FRSPH
Alan Szmelskyj DO, MSc, Adv Dip Clin Hyp, FRSPH
Alan Szmelskyj is a clinical hypnotherapist, a registered osteopath, Pain Reprocessing Therapy Practitioner, and Gut-Directed Hypnotherapy Practitioner based in Cambridge, UK. Alan has over 30 years of clinical experience and an extensive list of scientific publications. His specializations include the treatment of chronic pain and Gut-Directed Hypnotherapy for IBS. Alan is one of a handful of Pain Reprocessing Therapy practitioners in the UK. He is also qualified in three main methods of Gut-Directed Hypnotherapy for IBS. He is a member of the Neuro-Gastro Interest Group—a specialist group of Gut-Directed Hypnotherapy Practitioners. Additionally, he is a member of the Primary Care Society for Gastroenterology. Alan is available for in-person appointments in Cambridge and virtual appointments online.

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