Recovering from knee and hip replacement surgery can be a long journey, but it isn’t insurmountable with the right support and help in place.
While you’ve likely been sent home with leaflets of tips to help you manage, here are some other things you can do to make your recovery less strenuous and more successful once you return home from the hospital.
You’ll be tired, so don’t make too many plans
Sleep allows your body to better repair itself. After the stress of the surgery, you’ll be fatigued and tired for at least a few weeks after the surgery. Try not to pack your schedule with too many activities to allow yourself time to sleep if you get tired.
Have someone around for the first week or two
Have someone stay with you or stay at a friend’s or relative’s place who has agreed to be your caregiver for the first week or two after your surgery. Having someone else prepare your meals for you and be there if you need assistance will be invaluable for your recovery. If friends and family are too far away or too busy, consider hiring someone to come in as a professional caregiver to help you through the first couple of weeks. Check with your GP to see if you qualify for free home supports, preferably prior to your surgery.
Changing your diet for the best recovery
To support the joints, the body needs specific compounds and vitamins. For the most part, these help the body replace its collagen stores. Collagen is an essential component of joints. Vitamin C is needed to convert the amino acid proline to hydroxyproline during collagen synthesis. It is also required for the metabolism of proteoglycans in joint cartilage. Foods and supplements containing vitamin C can help support this process. Collagen itself, which you’ll find in foods like bone broths and supplements, also helps to support joint recovery.
A healthier diet will help to boost your immune system post-surgery. Try to eat more fruits and vegetables and cut out processed and fast foods where possible. Also, you should be sure to eat enough food – your body needs nutrients and calories to help it recover. You may not feel like eating much for the first few weeks after your surgery, but it’s best to power through the lack of appetite and eat anyway to help your body heal. If you are unsure of how much you need to eat, consult your GP and they will either furnish you with an idea of your dietary needs or refer you and/or your caregiver to a nutritionist.
Total recovery from hip or knee replacement surgery takes time, and varies with each patient. Following the advice of your medical team, keeping up with prescribed exercises and appointments, and supporting your recovery with the right nutrition will all help you get back to normal.
NHS Knee Replacement information page
NHS Hip Replacement information page