5 Things You Should Do Before, During and After Your Job

1. DO THE BEDROOM EXAM

According to a new review of previous studies, there’s almost no benefit to spending your precious first few days after surgery on just recovering from the procedure. That includes every item on the traditional surgical recovery checklist.

If, however, you do need help feeling comfortable and psychologically prepared, you can often choose to have all of the things mentioned in the clinical checklist done by your surgeon. That includes how to choose an appropriate bed, which painkillers to take, who will be present if the procedure goes wrong and how to handle infections after surgery. “Getting the training or the experience to feel completely comfortable after the surgery could also be helpful,” says Richard Simons, MD, a surgery resident at Boston Medical Center.

2. STOCK UP ON PAINKILLERS

During the recovery period, you may need to take at least some painkillers every day. A 2012 study of 2,939 people who had arthroscopic surgery on their knees found that the average patient received 180-tablet-strength painkillers, which might be enough for about one month.

But researchers at the University of Toronto wrote a new analysis of more than 30 recent studies in JAMA Surgery, found that the length of time after surgery that the average person should use painkillers ranged from a low of 19 days to a high of 78 days. One thing that clinched it: People who used painkillers for three weeks or more appeared to have the lowest risk of complications, compared with those who took less than three weeks of pills. “At high dose, pain isn’t worth the risk,” says Janet Rotert, M.D., a surgeon at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.

3. UNDERSTAND THE RISKS AND BENEFITS OF PAIN MEDICATION

Two drugs might be an ideal replacement for what you’re already taking after surgery. There’s oxycodone, which can be effective to manage pain from hip-replacement surgery, and fentanyl, which is effective with chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, particularly in the first few days after treatment. A research review of 26 studies published in JAMA Surgery in 2016 found that patients on fentanyl reported less pain and were faster to recover than those on oxycodone.

4. GET THE DIAGNOSIS RIGHT

The takeaway here: Generally speaking, the longer before surgery that your symptoms become chronic, the more likely you are to suffer with joint pain or infection, and the higher your risk of developing sepsis or another potentially deadly complication called a peritonitis. So if you think you’re at high risk, get an early diagnosis. Not only is it good for your health, but it will help you make plans for recovery.

5. BED REST

“If you have sore joints, I would recommend a thorough post-operative bed rest, and getting comfortable immediately,” says Dr. Simons. A researcher at the Mayo Clinic found that patients in the U.S. recovered faster after colon resections if they got their beds immediately and slept on them. But since your muscles and bones aren’t ready to rebound, lie down on a reclining bed until you feel better. That usually takes about a week.

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