Depending on the extent and location of their surgery, patients may require vastly different physical rehabilitation regimens during post-operative care. The spectrum of intensity for physical rehabilitation is dependent on the extent of the patient’s surgery, but in order for a patient’s muscles to develop and heal (especially after major surgeries that incise or sever major soft tissues) proper nutrition is essential.
Patients may be tempted to complete their physical therapy regimens without regard to nutrition and instead simply continue eating and drinking as they had before their surgery. Proper nutrition during post-operative care begins with honest communication between you and your physician. What sorts of physical activities will you be unable to do and for how long? How stringently will you choose to follow your physician’s / physical therapist’s directives? What will your movement restrictions mean for your diet in terms of total caloric intake? Many patients, given their compromised movement during post-operative care, elect to continue the same eating habits and gain an unhealthy amount of weight as a result. Talking to your physician about nutrition ahead of time will help you in developing a nutritional plan that will keep your body at a healthy weight.
Recovering patients can also turn to the fitness community at large for advice. Proper nutrition forms a cornerstone of a preventive lifestyle, which is a series of lifestyle choices made to limit the onset of common health problems (diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and heart disease) before they have a chance to take hold. While talking to your physician about your nutritional expectations during your post-operative care, be certain to inquire about local nutritionists and dieticians as well. Even though your physical activity may be restricted, in many instances an intensive physical therapy regimen can keep your body from atrophying during your recovery. Monitor your pain levels closely and do not take unnecessary physical risks, but be wary of staying sedentary too long as well. Lack of exercise during post-operative care often results in a loss of flexibility that is difficult to regain even when your body fully heals, and depending on the length of sedentary activity there may be a permanent loss of mobility.
In addition to monitoring your caloric intake and getting exercise, a preventive lifestyle requires you to pay attention to the kinds of nutrients of nutrients you are ingesting (and not simply their total calories). There are several free online programs for tracking your nutritional intake over time and many will provide you with complete diet plans. These plans will have further information regarding the specific balance of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and sugars in your diet. If you plan to utilize such a diet, be certain to inform your physician.