Evidence based medical wellness for active people from a doc who walks the walk

Prehab: how to have a successful surgery


I will be having surgery again on my left knee, this time a partial knee replacement.  There is a movement in the medical world that successful surgery begins BEFORE the surgery (Called “pre-hab”.)  Here is the latest on what is helpful before undergoing the knife.

  • Patients should understand the procedure and forms they are signing.  Don’t laugh, but I watched a YouTube video on my knee surgery, done on an actual patients with commentary by the surgeon.  It was kind of icky (blood! bones being sawed apart!) but it was worth it.
  • Ask questions and don’t be intimidated by “medical-ese”.  I still get intimidated when I am the patient, but having learned the hard way, I ask lots of questions.
  • Ask for a day by day plan for recovery–usually your doctor’s office will give this to you. When having a knee or  hip replacement, some providers and hospitals have class for you to go to.  GO!
  • Common sense: stop smoking before surgery!!! (And never start again!)
  • Keep your diabetes under tight control.  (Okay, when should a patient NOT have tight control?!!! Never!)
  • “Prehabilitation” or “prehab”– love this term! It means getting into the best shape you can before the surgery.  This includes aerobic exercise and weight training.  This is best done at least SIX weeks prior to surgery. For the non-fit start at low intensity, moderate intensity for the rest of us . Best if you can do 300 minutes (5 hours) per week of exercise prior to surgery.  Weight training should include the major muscles/joints. (Arms, shoulders, chest, abdomen, back, hips and legs.)
  • Prehab should include 15 minutes daily of abdominal breathing.  (Increases respiratory muscle strength.  Who knew we should train these, too?)
  • Relaxation.  Controlling anxiety via meditation etc is recommended to cut down on surgical stress.
  • Eat enough protein before and after surgery.  Aim for at least 2 grams of protein per Kg body weight.

I am exercising like crazy, and cleaning up my diet. I called my orthopedic surgeon today to ask for a booklet about partial knee replacement and find out more about the rehab. I am also doing deep breathing as I write this.  PLEASE, be an informed consumer!


Author: PookieMD

I am a board certified internal medicine physician. I love medicine and seek to bring evidence based medicine to the fitness and wellness world.

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