How To Have A Better Recovery From Foot Surgery

Foot surgery is often unique from other types of surgery in that the weight and stress of the body is placed directly on the surgical site during recovery, unlike abdominal surgery or back surgery. Even knee and hip procedures are not as directly affected post-operatively by the weight of the body on the ground as the foot. For this reason, recovery after foot surgery is often difficult for some, especially if the surgeon’s instructions are not followed completely or are ignored. This article will discuss ways to help make recovery from foot surgery easier.

First and foremost, it must be mentioned that there are many different procedures that are performed on the foot and, by extension, ankle. Each of these procedures have different requirements for recovery, and some even have very unique instructions that must be followed for a successful recovery. The surgeon’s specific instructions are important and must be followed. The advice in this article is meant to be a general guide to recovery from a typical foot surgical procedure, but may not offer a complete picture of an individual’s specific recovery needs. The last word in one’s specific recovery comes from their surgeon, and not this article. This should be kept in mind as one reads the following information.

Surgery is essentially an intended injury to the body. It is neither natural or healthy for an incision to be made into the skin and deeper tissue cut, moved, or removed. The body treats even the most skillfully performed surgery as an injury, similar to a stabbing wound, sprain, or broken bone. The body has a natural recovery process it initiates immediately upon being injured. This process involves an alphabet soup of chemicals, cells, and reactions that immediately set upon the injured tissue in an attempt to begin the mending process. This initial process is known as inflammation, and consists of swelling, warmth, and perhaps redness. It externally may look similar to an infection, as the body’s response to bacteria is similar. This inflammation can create the majority of pain after foot surgery for several reasons. Firstly, the foot has a limited area that tissue can swell within, and any excessive swelling can push against nerves and other sensitive tissue causing pain. Secondly, since the foot is usually the lowest point of the body, gravity will naturally force fluid into the foot more than any other part of the body. The period of time this initial inflammation lasts is usually four to seven days after the surgery, with a gradually tapering after that time period. Moderate inflammation certainly will persist much longer following this time period, but the lion’s share of the swelling and the various chemical reactions involved in the inflammatory process peaks and declines within the first week following surgery. Because of the potential of this process to cause a great deal of throbbing or stabbing pain following surgery, all instructions on icing, elevation of the foot, and activity restriction, which will all decrease the inflammation, should be followed. Sometimes anti-inflammatory medications are also used during this period to help decrease the inflammation. It should be recognized, however, that this inflammation is vital and necessary to the healing process, and some inflammation is needed to begin mending the surgical site. The body does tend to overdo this reaction significantly, and there is a great amount of inflammation that can be reduced to limit pain while leaving enough for the healing process.

Some pain following foot surgery is not directly related to the healing process, but to the actual incision or act of cutting. The foot contains an enormous network of nerves, many of which are minuscule. Foot surgeons are careful to avoid cutting visible nerves during surgical dissection (unless it is a nerve that is being removed). However, microscopic skin nerves do get severed during the act of making an incision, and this cannot be avoided. Sometimes, despite the most careful work, minor nerves do get damaged or severed during the surgical process. In general, all these nerves do heal uneventfully, but can create pain in the immediate days following surgery that is often unaltered by icing, elevation, or anti-inflammatory medication. This type of pain is best controlled by narcotic medication, and that is the very reason why narcotics are often prescribed for use after surgery. For the most part, narcotic use in foot surgery is usually limited to the first two or three weeks following surgery at the most. Pain that persists longer that is unrelieved by icing, elevation, or anti-inflammatory medications is unusual, and further investigation needs to be done by the surgeon to determine the cause. Of course, every patient’s tolerance to pain is different, and there are those out there who are excessively sensitive to pain and discomfort. However, the vast majority of patients have little remaining pain three weeks following foot surgery, excepting for mild soreness or stiffness. There are a few procedures in which this may not be true, including surgery to release or sever nerve tissue, surgery that requires multiple procedures at the same time, complicated fracture repair, or major foot reconstruction. Because of the often traumatic nature of these procedures, the inflammation process or general nerve-related pain may last much longer.

One of the biggest mistakes people make after foot surgery, outside of not icing or elevating the foot, is to resume semi-normal activity shortly after the surgery. The unique point about foot surgery is that, unlike abdominal surgery for example, the body usually feels great shortly after the surgery. The desire and tendency to get up and become active is strong. Unfortunately, the foot is not in any position to resume normal activity, and the surgical site can actually be harmed by such activity. The tissues that are held together by stitches need time to mend, and immediate activity can stretch and pull on these fragile bindings. More inflammation, delayed healing, and future excessive scar tissue can result from early activity. The skin incision may even split open. By becoming active earlier than advised, the natural push of gravity will force fluid into the foot, increasing and prolonging the inflammation process, and possibly resulting in long term swelling that will persist months following surgery. If bone was operated on, and pins, wires, screws, or staples are holding the bone together, early activity against the advice of the surgeon can result in a fracturing of the bone, or at least a delayed or abnormally positioned healing. There are some procedures, particularly joint implant or remodeling procedures, that require early activity to prevent joint stiffness. By following the surgeon’s specific instructions on post-operative activity, long term complications and unnecessary pain can be avoided.

One final way of making foot surgery recovery easier has to do with keeping the dressing clean and intact. One of the most common complications seen across all types of surgery that can make recovery difficult is infection. Although the surgery is performed in a sterile environment, bacteria can still invade the surgical site following surgery. Many times this is due to patients getting their dressing wet or heavily soiled. Bacteria has the capability to travel through multiple layers of gauze, and can easily invade the surgical site when helped along by water, or when material is smeared into the dressing that has a high bacterial count. Many people have natural resistance to bacteria on the skin level, but when an incision is present this can be an automatic portal for bacteria to enter the less resistant deeper tissue. There are also those who are at greater risk for infection, including diabetics and those with compromised immune systems. Surgical infections can run the range from simple skin infections that only need oral antibiotic medication to serious infections involving deep tissue and bone that need intravenous antibiotics, hospitalization, and possibly more surgery. By keeping one’s dressing and bandages dry and clean, and by not removing the dressing before instructed to do so by the surgeon, one can have a reasonable sense of protection from infections. Of course, infections do sometimes occur out of the blue in even the healthiest of patients. However, these uncommon and spontaneous infections are hard to prevent or anticipate.

By ensuring that the foot is iced, elevated, rested, and kept dry and clean, the majority of issues that follow recovery from foot surgery can be reduced in severity or avoided altogether. Strict following of the surgeon’s instructions is very important, as only the surgeon is truly aware of the nature of the surgery and what the subsequent recovery period requires. By keeping this in mind, one can ensure a comfortable and speedy recovery from foot surgery.

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Recovering From Shoulder Surgery With Acupuncture

Different types of shoulder injuries will require different types of treatments. While it may be in your best interest to try natural healing options for certain conditions, surgery may be the best suited option in other cases. It is estimated that the average time it takes to recover from shoulder surgery (regaining 75-80% of strength and function) is 6-7 months. In some cases it may take up to a year, with complete recovery taking as long as 2 years. This all depends on the initial health of the individual, the extent of the injury, quality and commitment to rehabilitation, the patient’s diet and modalities of rehabilitation. Using acupuncture and Chinese herbs can shorten your recovery time in each of the phases of rehabilitation. It is possible to get the strength and function of your shoulder back sooner, reduce the pain of the trauma from the surgery, decrease scar tissue and minimize the loss of range of motion, all by using acupuncture and Chinese herbal formulas.

Possible shoulder injuries or conditions are fractures, dislocation/subluxation, tears, impingement, tendinitis, bone spurs and bursitis. Obviously, not all of these conditions will require surgery. For the sake of this article the focus is on injuries and shoulder surgeries such as, arthroscopic, rotator cuff repair, Bankart surgery and prosthetic shoulder replacement. All of these surgeries can be greatly beneficial to the patient, but they can also cause great trauma to the area that takes a long time to heal and lots of dedication and time in physical rehabilitation by the patient.

There are certain risks associated with shoulder surgery including vascular and neurological injury, leakage of synovial fluid, increased stiffness and injury to the tendons due to iatrogenic causes (medical mistake). In most cases there are no complications and the patient only has to deal with the normal post-surgical shoulder issues. Shoulder surgery patients typically report pain, stiffness, swelling, decreased range of motion, keloid scarring, loss of strength, numbness and tingling as post-surgical issues. Each one of these issues can be minimized by using acupuncture treatments through the rehabilitation process. Treatments can be started the same day or day after the surgery, if possible. Different herbal formulas can be used to strengthen tendons and ligaments, reduce pain and move the blood (reduces swelling, aides lymph drainage and brings a constant supply of oxygen and nutrients to the damaged area). Make sure to get your herbs from a licensed practitioner to ensure you’re getting the right formula for you. Acupuncture can move you through the 4 stages of recovery faster and get you back to being functional up to 2 months quicker than rehabilitation without acupuncture.

Stage 1 of the recovery process is 5-6 weeks and involves the patient wearing a sling. In this phase, acupuncture can be performed in the areas surrounding the shoulder to increase blood flow to the area, minimize build up of lymph and swelling, keep the immune system high (lowering risk of infection) and lower pain levels. Acupuncture helps your body to release endorphins, which are your body’s natural pain-killer. For those patients who don’t like taking pharmaceuticals, this is a great alternative and can lower your need for prescription pain medications.

Stage 2 involves very minimal movement and therapy on the shoulder. Using acupuncture directly around the damaged shoulder in this phase can promote blood flow to the tendons. This helps to minimize stiffness and reduced range of motion. Stimulation of the surrounding muscles keeps loss of strength and muscle mass to a minimum. Mild electro-acupuncture is an excellent modality at this stage. Use of distal points on the hand ensures nerve conduction is maintained and limits the possibility of extended numbness and tingling in the limb.

Stage 3 encourages more physical therapy and has the patient using weights ranging from 6-10 lbs. Acupuncture is beneficial in this stage to continue nurturing the muscles and damaged tendons. It is also great at preventing the build-up of keloid scar tissue and breaking down any scar tissue that may have already built up. This is important to maintain full range of motion, flexibility and sensations.

Stage 4 is an ongoing rehabilitation to get the patient back to 100% again. If the patient has been compliant and the acupuncturist has done their job properly, this stage should be greatly shortened and the patient should be months ahead of the rehabilitation process.

While some orthopedic surgeries can be avoided using acupuncture and Chinese medicine, it can be used as a complementary service in the rehabilitation process from surgeries too. It can be used before the patient is able to move the arm and go to physical therapy. It can also be used in conjunction with physical therapy. When done properly, by a licensed acupuncturist, your post-surgical recovery time from shoulder injury will be kept to a minimum and as pain-free as possible, with greater range of motion, more strength and less chance permanent damage. Visit us online for more information on post-surgical rehabilitation using acupuncture and Chinese medicine to heal faster.

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Jobs For Retirees – Finding The Perfect Retirement Job

Working After Retirement

Now I’m living the dream and while I enjoy the freedom of not having to work, working is still a part of my life. Work still provides some positive things that I need and I don’t know how to turn off the work ethic that took a lifetime to develop.

The big difference is that now, I’m not committed to 40 hours a week, every week. Most of the retired people I know are still working in some capacity. It’s just something we do.

But the question most people ask me when they begin thinking about retirement is “Why work after you retire?”. An old friend of mine had one of the best answers. He said “You can sit on the porch for only so long.” He was 80 when he took his last part-time job.

The question I always ask is “What do you want to do after you retire?” and there may be several answers to that question. The decision will generally be based on how financially secure you are going to be after you retire. For some of us, working, even part-time, will be a reality. How many seniors do you see working in restaurants and department stores?

So, what is the perfect retirement job for you?

The Perfect Part-Time Job

The perfect retirement job might be the one you have now. Except on your own terms. I know several people who retired and agreed to come back to work on a part-time basis for their former employer. They get to use their vast store of knowledge, work shorter hours with people they already know and get paid pretty well for it. A win-win situation if you can get it. The place to start is to find out if your company already uses part-time employees or make an offer to your company to provide valuable services after you retire.

If you have technical experience, you might explore consulting as a part-time job. My consulting work started shortly after I retired in 2009 with a phone call from a company asking if I could help them out with a short term project doing exactly what I did before I retired. I’ve been working four to six months a year ever since.

There are several other possibilities for part-time work that you could consider;

Do you like to drive and travel? Recreational vehicle dealers in your area might have a need for someone to transport motor homes from one dealership to another. Check with your local RV dealers and offer your services as a driver. Some might require a class C driver’s license, but the rewards of being paid to travel to different parts of the country in a luxury motor home might be worth the effort.

I know a retired guy who used to drive cars between auto dealerships in his city and another who delivered cars for Enterprise car rental. This type of work is a little more difficult to get into because auto dealers usually have someone on staff deliver cars. It doesn’t hurt to ask and it might result in a unique part-time job.

Uber, the ride sharing service that was started on the internet a couple of years ago offers opportunities to generate some additional cash. I don’t know what the pricing structure is, but it should be easy to sign up for and generate some extra cash. Another big benefit for a retiree, you get to work when you want to and on your terms.

When most people think about a part-time job, the first thing that comes to mind is a low paying structured job where you report to a place at a certain time, put in some hours and get paid. This works and has been the norm since forever. But, the real key to finding unusual ways to earn extra cash is to look around, watch the news and see what is happening in the world today.

If you see something unusual that interests you, check it out. It might just be the perfect part-time job.

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