Surgery Series with Dr. Kelly Starrett, DPT – Part 1: Short Term Goals

Dr. Kelly Starrett, DPT opens up about his upcoming total knee replacement surgery, and how he is preparing for optimal recovery. 

Typically, people think about getting surgery or needing surgery as a way to stop pain or to correct an issue or injury that can’t be treated with less invasive therapies.  For these reasons, many people may be surprised about Kelly having surgery since he still has decent range of motion and isn’t in constant pain.  But Kelly points out that there can be more important reasons for surgery.

What’s most important is your role in society, your family, your job or work, play, exercise, etc.  If an injury is preventing you from fulfilling these roles, as Kelly has experienced with his knee issues, that is why he’s opted for this procedure.

Kelly Starrett goes onto review some best practices for post-op recovery noting two main goals:

  1. Having a plan to manage pain
  2. Keeping the brain-to-muscle connection intact

After trauma, we often see a disconnect between the brain and muscles due to inactivity and immobility.  The brain can start to be fearful of moving due to pain or congestion, which can lead to additional immobility and muscle loss.

He notes that one of the best ways to accomplish goal #2 is to stay AHEAD of the swelling, versus waiting for it to build up and then trying to reduce it.  In addition to nutritional and sleep changes, Dr. Starrett also uses the H-Wave OTC to help accomplish these goals.

H-Wave OTC is a unique form of electrical stimulation (not to be confused with TENS), that has two different settings: one to combat pain, and one to increase blood flow and lymphatic drainage.  H-Wave’s High Frequency provides on-demand pain relief by interrupting the pain signal from his knee to his brain, so he can get localized and significant relief that’s also drug free.

H-Wave’s Low Frequency increases blood flow and lymphatic drainage – as Kelly calls it “groceries in / garbage out.” This increased lymphatic drainage is key to minimizing congestion and prevent significant swelling since it creates immediate “movement without motion.” Kelly’s goal is to get ‘movement’ for at least 23 hours a day post-surgery.  But like many people, if he’s numb or in pain, then it will be hard to get that much actual movement in.  This is where H-Wave comes in.  The low frequency creates non-tetanizing contractions and your brain sees all of this movement happening without pain, therefore keeping the connection between the brain and muscles intact.  The brain won’t be afraid to move because it won’t be threatened since the tissues are being loaded in a sensible way without causing pain or muscle fatigue.

Kelly also points out a secondary treatment that he loves to include: Inclusion therapy (or blood flow restriction training). He highlights smart cuffs as a great tool to accomplish this hyper perfusing of the tissues by forcing his vasculature to work harder.

Get more details by watching the full video here: