Accelerate Physical Therapy

Do Supplements and Vitamins Impact Recovery after Surgery?

Nobody wants to go through surgery, even the “minor” out-patient procedures. However, it’s not necessarily the surgery itself that most people dread. It’s the recovery period, and all that comes with it. For many, it can be quite painful.

If it were just a matter of resting for a few hours or couple days, it wouldn’t be so bad. But, surgeries such as knee or hip replacement, also comes with a long bout of physical therapy with hours of painful exercising to get your body back on track.

Even though the intent of surgery is to provide relief in the long run, it doesn’t always seem like it immediately afterward. So, if something as simple as a supplement can help speed up a healthy recovery, then it’s worth looking into, right? They have potential to fend off potential post-surgery complications, such as wound, respiratory, or urinary tract infections.

The following information on post-surgery supplements and vitamin consumption is something you should consider. But, always with a doctor’s approval.

Supplements May Speed up Recovery

A very popular supplement among patients recovering from surgery, as well as maintaining healthy joints, is glucosamine. It is produced within our bodies naturally and works to repair cartilage. However, as with all other things our bodies naturally produce, sometimes it could use a boost.

The thought on taking an oral glucosamine supplement is that the consumption aids in improving and increasing the cartilage to repair itself. A standard dose for glucosamine is about 1500mg per day, for up to 2 months. If the results are good, your doctor might request that you continue with the treatment.

Another supplement often used is chondroitin, which is found within cartilage. It plays a large role in the resiliency cartilage needs to help fend off stress. Chondroitin also helps with preventing enzymes that are known to destroy cartilage. The standard dosing is 400mg twice daily for up to 2 months, and is often taken along with glucosamine.

Also, there are several non-herbal supplements available that will help promote a quicker and smoother recovery period. They work by rebuilding tissue, as well as fighting off infections that can easily occur post-surgery. Some of these include essential fatty acids, coenzyme Q10, L-cysteine, amino acids, L-glutamine, and L-lysine.

Each of these has definite benefits in helping a body to heal, as well as maintain a healthy existence. Fortunately, many of these are found in foods. So, if you eat a well-balanced diet, it could eliminate the need to take them. But, if you don’t eat right, check with your physician on which ones would be beneficial.

Zinc is quite possibly the most important supplement, as it can dramatically increase the time of healing. The immune system takes a beating during any invasion, such as surgery, and zinc can give it a significant boost. By building the immune system, it can help to reduce swelling and inflammation, stunt bacterial growth, and reduce scar tissue. Zinc can also be found in a well-balanced diet. But, it’s definitely something to consider taking, if you don’t eat right.

Vitamins to Consider

Vitamins may also help a body bounce back quicker from surgery. A vitamin deficiency can often be corrected by simply taking a supplement, or changing to a diet rich in vitamins. While the body might not be vitamin deficient prior to surgery, any trauma can temporarily deplete your natural supply.

Take a look at the following vitamins and the role they play in recovery:

Vitamin C – This popular vitamin helps the body produce collagen and elastin, which are necessary for proper healing. A deficiency in it will lead to slower healing time for tissue such as skin, blood vessels, and bone.
Vitamin A – Cell growth is important in healing, and vitamin A is known for aiding in cell growth and maturity, by nourishing tissues in the process of forming. It also can activate new connective tissue and stimulates blood vessel health.
Vitamin D – Contributing to bone health and density, vitamin D can be obtained through a balanced diet, as well as a healthy dose of sun, anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes of sunshine during peak daylight hours.
Vitamin E – Important to wound healing, vitamin E can help reduce scarring. It’s available in both oral supplement and topical oil. With a physician’s approval, it can be applied to a wound up to 3 times a day.

Most of the time, the necessary daily intake for these vitamins and supplements mentioned above, can be obtained through a healthy and well-balanced diet. But, you will most likely be facing some rehabilitation after surgery. And, your physical therapist will tell you that a healthy diet and body, aside from the therapy, will speed up the recovery time.

Word of Caution about Supplements and Vitamins

A true vitamin deficiency is determined through blood work and can be addressed with a supplement.

However, you must be careful to not overdo vitamin intake, just like any other medication. Just because it’s natural, doesn’t mean it can’t be too much for your body to handle. This is especially true BEFORE surgery. Make sure to talk to your physician in order to find out if you need to stay away from your normal supplements for a while prior to having surgery.