As a medical professional, you know that care doesn’t stop after surgery. In addition to the appropriate prescriptions, post-operative patients need clear directions for safely recovering, staying comfortable, and returning to normal activity. The more information you can provide, the better equipped patients will be during the recovery process.
Guidelines for the Post-Operative Patient
The recovery process is different for every individual and depends on the type of procedure, but you can give your patients these four general guidelines to help ensure a successful recovery:
Many patients think they just need to rest the affected area after surgery. For example, they assume that keeping a shoulder immobilized after rotator cuff repair is sufficient. However, the body needs more energy than usual during surgery recovery, which is why it is important to not only rest the injury but to rest the entire body.
This includes getting enough quality sleep, which is not always easy when patients are in pain or cannot get in a comfortable position. The body heals more quickly during sleep, so getting more sleep after surgery may help patients speed up the recovery process. Helping patients effectively manage pain and recommending suitable positions will help them get more rest while they heal.
Another important factor in the healing process is hydration. Staying hydrated allows the body to flush cellular waste, which accumulates more quickly as cells repair themselves. Drinking enough water also allows blood to bring more oxygen and nutrients to the surgical site. Both are important elements of the healing process.
Encourage patients to drink more water than usual and recommend a low-sugar electrolyte beverage to help maintain hydration.
In addition to getting enough high-quality sleep, it’s important for patients to keep stress levels low during the day. Studies have shown that stress can have a negative impact on the healing process and increase the risk of infection.
When possible, recommend that patients take time off work and get help from friends and family to manage daily tasks. You might also recommend stress-relieving techniques like breathing exercises or meditation to help patients stay calm during the recovery process. If the procedure is planned in advance, talk to your patients about ways they can prepare their homes for an easier recovery by moving furniture, setting up single-floor living, and preparing meals they can reheat. The more prepared that patients are before having surgery, the less stressful the recovery process may be.
Many post-operative patients can benefit from a cold and compression therapy system. Immediately after surgery and during the entire recovery process, it helps reduce inflammation and control pain. The system is easy to use in any setting and can be adjusted to maintain a consistent therapeutic temperature and the desired amount of pressure. In addition to relieving pain and swelling, cold therapy systems may help accelerate the healing process so that patients can generally return to normal activity more quickly.
Patients can receive cold and compression therapy in the hospital after surgery, in a clinic during physical therapy, and in their own homes by renting a device with a prescription from you. The device may be used any time of day, including during sleep, to dull the pain and make patients more comfortable. Many patients also appreciate having pain relief options that help reduce or eliminate the need for prescription medication.
If you need more resources to provide your patients after surgery, consider downloading our free post-operative patient care guide. You can use the included tips in your own practice or pass them on directly to patients seeking more information.