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How Long Will it Take to Recover from Surgery?

Enhanced Recovery from Surgery – The 3 Phases

A common question patients ask is: how can I have the best recovery from surgery? Of course, it depends on the type of surgery, but you should consider the recovery in 3 phases. Understanding these phases will help you manage your expectations for the most enhanced recovery from surgery.

What is orthopaedic surgery?

Orthopaedic surgery is basically a controlled injury to soft tissues and bones. It involves cutting the skin and essentially breaking the bone. The only difference from a normal injury is the mechanism of how it is done.

sleeping for enhanced recovery after surgery

Phase 1. Injury:

This phase involves an initial period of wound healing. At this point, the swelling and reaction to injury will be at its highest. This is why your surgeon will ask you to rest and minimise normal activities to essential things like “going to the toilet” or “going up to bed”. You may be asked to elevate your limb and use ICE to minimise swelling. This phase usually lasts around 2 weeks, at which time any stitches or clips holding the wound together will be removed.

physiotherapy for enhanced recovery after surgery

Phase 2. Acceptance:

This is the period of initial recovery as you start going back to more normal activity and work. This phase really does depend on the procedure undertaken. In general, it will be another 4 weeks after the injury phase is complete. The patient will be allowed to mobilise more, and may begin some physiotherapy but, in essence, will need to “accept” the time specified.

enhanced recovery after surgery

Phase 3. Frustration:

This may well be quite a difficult phase. Usually around 6-8 weeks post-op, your surgeon will advise you to return back to normal activity. Your own body, however, will dictate what you can do by swelling and causing pain if you overdo things. In this phase, you need to listen to your body and continue to rest, ICE and elevate as needed. You will likely become “frustrated” with progress, as it will feel like a long time. Remember, however, the less you do in the initial “injury phase”, the quicker you will get through the “frustration phase”. Normally things really start to improve at around 10 weeks post-op.

Enhanced Recovery from Surgery – where to learn more

In essence, listen to the advice given, listen to your body and have a quick and safe recovery.

Make sure to check out our blog for more health tips and get treatment for a range of conditions below:


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