Rapid recovery from a surgical procedure is one of our goals. While gentle technique and diligent post procedure adherence to instructions play a large role, there is always some variability in patients who are “quick healers” versus those who take a longer time to heal. A recent study in Science Translational Medicine found that in patients who healed faster after hip procedures, found that the activity in monocytes within the first day after surgery would help determine how quickly patients would recover. These monocytes are a type of white blood cell and are an important type of immune cell. The authors concluded that pre-operative interventions such as exercise and diet modification as well as immune-modulating medications may be the next step in improving recovery.
So how does this study translate to our patients? A healthy lifestyle which includes exercise and a healthy, balanced diet may help you recover from procedures faster as they have been found to be critical for the overall immune health of a person. For example, a recent British study found that 2 1/2 hours of vigorous exercise per week lowered your chance of getting the flu by 10% by boosting your immune system. While taking immune-modulating medications may seem extreme and have its own potential risks, herbal supplements may offer another option. Just be careful to make sure your herbal supplements are not blood thinners as this will increase your risk for bruising.