The period of time before you receive orthopedic surgery for a chronic condition or injury can be uncertain, and most people rightfully want to take time to prepare before their procedure. But when you’re creating your pre-op checklist, are you including exercise? The idea of exercising pre-op may be confusing, and you may wonder how you can be expected to use a body part that is damaged or painful without making it worse -- but in fact, pre-op exercise can make a huge difference in your ability to make a quicker, fuller, more effective recovery.
Dr. Trevor Turner wants his patients to be aware of all the techniques that can help them restore their bodies to full functionality after surgery, including preoperative exercise. Here are three reasons why you should be doing appropriate exercises before your orthopedic procedure:
1. It Helps Improve Your VO2 Max
If you’re an athlete, you may have heard the term “VO2 max” before. You may even have used it as a metric during your typical aerobic fitness training before you planned to have surgery. If you’re unfamiliar with VO2 max, the definition is simple: it’s a formula that calculates how much oxygen your body is able to take in and utilize during a period of physical activity. The formula can be broken down as follows:
- O2 = Oxygen
- V = the rate of use
- Max = Maximum
Therefore, VO2 max means the “max” rate of oxygen production and consumption your body reaches while performing exercise.
Targeting the improvement of VO2 max -- during pre-op or regular exercise -- isn’t just about increasing the amount of oxygen you make and use. It’s about ensuring that your respiratory process is as effective as possible. If your central factors (lungs, heart and blood) and peripheral factors (muscles) are at peak function before your surgery, you’re far more likely to tolerate anesthesia well and see better outcomes following the procedure.
2. It Helps Your Body Cope With Surgery
While Dr. Turner is highly passionate about providing patients with the least invasive procedures available in the field of orthopedics, any type of surgery you receive will have a serious impact on your body. Overall, a healthier, more physically fit body will be more tolerant of surgery, reducing the potential for complications during your procedure. Most significantly, studies show that exercising before surgery can help prevent muscle and nerve damage(opens in a new tab) from occurring during the restoration of blood flow while in the operating room. Muscle and nerve damage sustained during surgery can potentially be permanent, and may require further corrective procedures. Preventing this type of complication is invaluable to patients looking for a full, effective recovery following their orthopedic surgery.
3. It Can Speed Up Your Rehabilitation
Among physical therapists and orthopedic specialists, there’s actually a term for the type of pre-operative exercise that seeks to safely prepare patients to enter surgery while physically fit: prehabilitation, or “prehab” for short. Prehabilitation is a supervised type of physical therapy specifically designed to improve your chances of a faster, more effective recovery following your procedure. Prehab can help your body:
- Prevent significant muscle atrophy during your recovery
- Prepare for the physical challenges of post-op rehab
- Improve its baseline function (strength, flexibility, range of motion, etc), reducing the gap rehab must close
- Improve your mindset and outlook before and after surgery
All of these elements have been shown to decrease the length of hospital stays, length of physical therapy, and ultimately, healthcare costs for patients who undergo surgery to correct an orthopedic condition or injury. This is why the many cutting-edge orthopedists recommend that every patient who receives orthopedic surgery do some form of prehab before they’re due to receive surgery.
Of course, pre-op exercise should never be performed without guidance and supervision from a licensed professional in order to prevent reinjury or irritation of your affected area. If you need guidance from one of the best orthopedic doctors in Georgia, Dr. Trevor Turner is here to help you at every step, from prehabilitation to surgery and beyond.
Interested in speaking to an experienced, cutting-edge PM&R doctor near you? Don’t wait another day in pain. Reach out to Dr. Turner to get started on the road to recovery!