After having an implant surgery, you will need to be careful about how you move the extremity, particularly for the first few months after the surgery. At the end of your recovery time, when you return to your previous baseline activity level, it is important to be careful not to injure the implant, which could necessitate revision surgery.
Here are 10 things you can do to prolong the lifetime of your surgical implant:
Avoid Twisting & Turning
Try to avoid twisting and turning motions. For the lower extremity implants, take small steps when you turn. Try not to pivot on the leg that was operated on. Your toes should be pointing straight ahead. For the upper extremity implants, try to avoid sports and household activities that require a twisting motion.
Avoid Shocks & Impacts
Do not jerk the joint or the particular extremity that was operated on as minor impacts can dislocate or damage tiny screws or pins that are well-placed.
Don’t Put Pressure
Do not lift or bear weight beyond the recommended limits. This will place too much stress on your involved joint and could result in implant failure.
Be Compliant with DMEs
Strictly following your surgeon’s recommendations and being consistent could potentially avoid many of the postoperative complications, including prosthetic failures. Being compliant with medical equipment and supplies such as splints, casts, slings, footwear, and assistive devices like a cane, walker, wheelchair, etc., is mandatory to have a successful outcome.
Low Impact Exercises
As being physically active is essential even after a major surgery like hip replacement, it is crucial to do low-impact exercises and physical therapy that are well-discussed and recommended by your surgeon. Discuss with your surgeon emergently if it is painful or mechanically limiting and make adjustments accordingly.
Don’t Push Your Limits
Do not push your limits beyond the advised level. Kneeling, crawling, bending, squatting, and climbing unprotected heights should be particularly avoided after lower extremity surgery. Likewise, gripping, pinching, pulling, pushing, lifting, and overhead activities should be avoided, in particular after upper extremity surgery. Getting help from a family member or a caregiver is advisable if you want to perform such tasks.
Avoid Repetitive Motion
Reduce activities that cause repetitive or intensive motion such as climbing stairs, using a power tool, or playing with a kid or a pet. The repetitive motion of the joint will not only induce inflammation but could also lead to the failure of implants.
Make sure you keep the sutures clean and dry after the surgery to let the incision(s) heal faster. Usually, an infection occurs when harmful bacteria enter the wound. On the other hand, for diabetic patients, the wound may take longer to heal or be left with complications like infection. This could obviously result in debridement surgery, implant failure, or even amputation.
Refrain From the Cause
If you underwent implant surgery due to an injury or an accident, try not to do the activity again that caused the injury in the first place. Refrain from such activity or environment as you are more likely to injure again and could permanently damage your joint along with the implanted prosthesis.
Water exercises and aquatic therapy are oftentimes, the first step in the rehabilitation program after surgery. As long as the surgical incision is healed and without complications, it is wise to go with simple range of motion exercises underwater. However, aggressive swimming such as breaststrokes should be avoided.
Unlike the old ones, modern implants are lighter and functionally durable. These even last for up to 20-plus years. Many patients end up extremely functional and are able to return to their activities of daily living and recreation without pain. If you have any questions regarding how to take care of your implant(s) or concerns about its long-term health, contact your orthopedic surgeon for detailed clarification.