Winter can make recovering from any injury a little bit harder, and surgery is no exception. Winter means your metabolism and healing ability slow down, and your blood can also move slower in cold weather. This makes it more difficult for your body to make the important nutrients your body needs to heal, and to get them to the right place for maximum effect.
However, there are many reasons you may end up having surgery in midwinter. You may have suffered an injury requiring immediate surgery. Your doctor may only have slots open at that time. You might even be trying to leverage your insurance structure to take advantage of cover and deductible limits before they reset for the new year.
Whatever your reasons, you want to be back on your feet as soon as possible. Here are five tips for helping your body maximize its healing power in the coldest months of the year.
1. Stay Warm
If you get cold, your blood finds it harder to circulate and your healing gets sluggish, too. Keep your body warm inside and out, by cranking up the thermostat, wearing layers, keeping blankets on the couch, wearing a hat, and drinking warm fluids. This goes double for days when you need to ice a post-operative site to bring down swelling.
Movement helps the healing process, so stay on track with your surgeon and rehabilitative teams’ direction for recovery workouts. The more you move your joint in careful, approved routines, the better your blood flow will be and the faster your tissues can heal. Make sure not to bear any weight on joints without approval, and don’t overstress joints.
3. Eat a Non-Inflammatory Diet
Of course, if it’s midwinter, the holidays are in full swing, and that means temptation. Limit inflammatory foods and sugars as much as you can, and enjoy seasonal fruits, vegetables and salads. Green and orange vegetables are perfect for boosting your body naturally, so load up on squash, broccoli, green beans, and cranberries to your heart’s content.
4. Look for a Heated Pool
Water aerobics can be one of the kindest things you can do for a recovery joint post-surgery. A heated indoor pool membership can help you stay both warm and active, letting you increase strength and flexibility while reducing impact on a healing surgical site.
5. Stay Social!
Your mental and emotional mood will also affect your healing, so participate fully in holiday events and social activities. Treat yourself to a few just-for-you gifts, and make plans for warmer weather once you’re fully recovered. Have questions about orthopaedic surgery and recovery? Contact our office and ask for a consultation with Dr. Scott Strasburger.