The good news: Your surgery is over, and the operation went well. The bad news: You are now facing a long, arduous recovery period. For many people, the period after surgery presents major physical and mental challenges that can be just as hard to deal with as the condition that initially prompted the surgery. If you’re looking to streamline your recovery period, you may want to consider alternative therapies like massage and nutritional supplementation. These strategies can aid in the recovery process and get you back on your feet in no time!
Reducing Pain and Swelling with Massage
No matter what kind of surgery you had, there are two things that you can almost always count on during the post-operation recovery period: pain and swelling. Before you can get back to your regular activities, you need to be able to get the swelling down and reduce the pain to a manageable level. Studies show that massage therapy can help with both.
There are several ways in which massage can help reduce swelling. First, massage helps support the proper functioning of the lymphatic drainage system. The cellular repair processes associated with recovery inevitably create cellular wastes. These wastes can build up and contribute to swelling. The mechanical effects of massage can make it easier for these waste products to be cleared out by the lymphatic drainage system. At the same time, massage can help reduce swelling by relaxing tense muscles and promoting blood circulation. Therefore, if you choose massage, you may not have to take as many anti-inflammatory drugs to bring down the swelling — and that’s great news for patients who want to avoid the GI distress and other possible side effects that are commonly associated with NSAIDs.
Massage can also help reduce your pain after surgery. Pain is often one of the most challenging aspects of the post-operation period, and the most common way to deal with it is by taking painkillers. However, given growing concerns about the dangers of opioid use, you might be worried about the potential risks of using opioid painkillers. Although you should always talk to your doctor about your pain management strategy, massage can be a great adjunct therapy to traditional painkillers. Massage naturally releases endorphins, which may reduce the dosage you need to take to bring the pain down to a manageable level. As we will discuss below, massage can also help shorten recovery time, which means that you may not have to take painkillers for as long.
Dealing with the Mental Challenges of Recovering from Surgery
In the aftermath of surgery, the challenges may not be just physical. If you’re normally an active person, sitting around and waiting to heal can cause high levels of stress and anxiety. Massage can help you stay relaxed and motivated to do everything you can to support proper recovery. That way, you won’t undo the benefits of your surgery by trying to get back to your regular activities too soon.
Alongside anxiety reduction, massage may also help improve the quality of your sleep. Getting enough high-quality sleep is essential to a speedy recovery from surgery, but there are a variety of factors — including pain, anxiety, and general physical discomfort — that can keep you from getting the sleep you need. One study from 2010 showed that in the post-operative period, cardiopulmonary artery bypass graft surgery patients who received massage therapy reported a significantly higher quality sleep and significantly lower levels of fatigue than a control group.
Speeding Up Recovery Time with Massage and Nutrition
Massage can also help speed up your recovery time by improving circulation. That way, the blood can carry the oxygen and nutrients that cells in the area of the surgery need to recover properly from the operation. At the same time, normal blood flow can help carry away toxins that would otherwise interfere with proper recovery.
Another way to speed up the recovery process after your operation is to develop a dietary strategy designed specifically to support healing. Perhaps most importantly, you need to get a lot of protein in the aftermath of an operation. However, because the healing process can affect your digestion, it is best to choose high-protein foods that are easier on your stomach, eggs, plain chicken breast, and low-fat yogurt.
There are also certain nutritional supplements that may help you get off the couch more quickly. For instance, vitamin C can support the production of collagen, a structural protein that is essential for the surgery recovery process. Vitamin D and calcium are also important, since they can help keep your bones strong even if you aren’t able to bear weight during the recovery period. Probiotic supplements can also help relieve GI distress commonly caused by painkillers.
If you’ve recently had surgery, Atlanta Chiropractic and Wellness can help you throughout the recovery process. We offer massage therapy, dietary supplements, and nutritional counseling so that you can return to your normal life in no time. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!