Post Operative Care after Orthopedic Surgery | Kelly Starrett, DPT

Dr. Kelly Starrett, DPT explains how he conceptualizes H-Wave usage with his patients who are planning on orthopedic surgery.  He breaks down his guidelines for post operative care into three different phases of use:

Pre-Operative Prep

What his experience has taught him is that most people have a system that is not physiologically prepared at the time that they have surgery.  Their bodies have been injured or in a chronic inflammatory state, and after the initial trauma or injury there is so much perfusion that what they really need to do in order to prep for the additional trauma of surgery is two things:

  1. Significantly decongest the tissues with non-fatiguing muscle contractions
  2. Create “Movement without motion” – which are basically low threshold isometrics.  We want to create “safe” signaling back to brain that it’s ok to put powerful, non-threatening movement into the system, which will help prevent fear-guarding of movement down the road

Post Operative Care Immediately After Surgery

Secondly, he emphasizes that if you can manage the immediate post-surgery swelling as soon as possible, then you have a better chance of recovering faster because you’ll be maintaining the muscular connection to the brain. 

Your brain will naturally want to protect the limb or joint that’s injured and will want to inhibit regional movement to do so.  But if you wait for the post-op pain to dissipate before trying to get movement into the system to flush the perfusion, then that could create problems down the line such as poor muscle activation.  If you can keep that connection from the muscle and tissues to the brain healthy and talking the whole time, then you can stay ahead of the swelling and prevent the buildup of proteins and waste around the surgical site which could cause discomfort. 

Kelly points out that that the beauty of using H-Wave for post operative care is that you can decongest regionally so that you’re not disrupting the actual incision area.  The earlier you can get non-threatening input in, then we don’t see as much pain guarding or fear guarding I the future.

Post Operative Care Long-Term After Surgery

Lastly, Kelly highlights the fact that in his own experience, H-Wave can give his athletes and patients long-term help which goes beyond the standard 3-6 week, and 4–6-month treatment protocols that may be prescribed for post-op recovery.  So, even long after the surgery they can continue to stay ahead as tissues continue to mature at the 12-month or 18-month marks. Their bodies can handle regular loading a lot easier because their muscles and tissues are not chronically and persistently effused for months and months and months.  

Kelly notes that his patients also reported less need for medicinal pain management (less pain medication usage) both short and long term after surgery because they were able to manage their nerve pain using H-Wave’s high frequency on-demand pain relief setting in addition to the low frequency rehabilitative setting.  The rehabilitative setting, if used consistently:

  1. Prevents massive buildup of proteins and waste by consistently decongesting the tissues
  2. Keeps the connection strong between the muscles, tissues, and the brain, which prevents fear guarding of future movement
  3. Helps tissues recover better as they continue to heal while your body rebuilds the vascular networks by maintaining strong circulation and lymphatic drainage
  4. Facilitates “movement without motion” so your body can get back to regular loading faster

Kelly provides additional details regarding his recommendations for post operative care in the full video here:

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