hernia is the protrusion of a body part through an abnormal opening, and curing it requires surgery to return everything to its normal location and close the opening. There are 2 major goals in recovery from surgery:
To help you in your recovery, I recommend using a helpful app produced by the Abdominal Core Health Quality Collaborative. Search the App Store for “ACHQC” - it's a free download on iOS and Android. The ACHQC is a nonprofit organization founded by hernia surgeons dedicated to improving hernia patient care and abdominal core health through collaboration. ACHQC app has helpful information for patients during all phases of care, including before surgery, immediately after surgery, and in recovery after surgery. There's great information about appropriate exercises, stretches, lifting precautions, and tips for activities of daily living. It also gives information for the different lengths of time following surgery, including the first two weeks, weeks 2-4, weeks 4-8, and thereafter. I highly recommend you download it and take a look.
Search the App Store for “ACHQC” - it's a free download on iOS and Android and has great information about appropriate exercises, stretches, lifting precautions, and tips for activities of daily living
This is an important time for your recovery. You want to be careful, but you also need to stay mobile and functional. An abdominal binder can be really helpful during this time. Especially wear it when you are up and moving. For the first three days, do not lift anything more than 5 pounds. After three days, do not lift anything more than 10 pounds until two weeks.
You want to be careful, but you also need to stay mobile and functional.
You can do basic day to day activities - walking and climbing stairs - but you should avoid household chores. Driving a car may be dangerous during this time. Pain medications and anesthesia depress your reaction times, and sudden braking will cause pain. I recommend that you do not drive until you are not taking narcotic pain medications and you feel that your pain has improved to the point that you can drive evasively, if needed (such as if a child were to run out in front of you). Anything that increases pressure in your abdomen can cause pain and set you back in your recovery. This includes strong coughing and sneezing. We want you to cough to clear your lungs, if need be. But take steps to avoid a chronic cough or sneezing. This may entail using allergy medications and cough suppressants. Constipation will also increase your abdominal pressure and should be avoided. Please take a stool softener until you know you are passing bowel movements easily.
Avoid household chores and even driving a car may be dangerous during this time.
Your diet is also important. Be sure you are eating plenty of fiber, 25-30 grams per day. And drink plenty of water, at least 2 liters per day.
Stay active and moving! Walk short distances 3-6 times daily. Walk slowly, like a toddler, and be careful. Slowly increase your distances and time with a goal of 30 minutes by the end of the first month. Reduce the intensity if you notice increased swelling, more than moderate fatigue, or significantly increased pain. It is normal to be sore, but don’t over do it.
Walk short distances 3-6 times daily.
Remember, everything great starts with the end in mind. This is what I want for your recovery! If you are mindful of taking care of yourself from the very beginning you won't suffer setbacks later.
You can lift up to 15 pounds until four weeks. Continue to use the abdominal binder, but you can take it off more frequently. Gradually decrease wear time depending on how you are doing. Continue to wear it during more vigorous activity, though.
You can lift up to 15 pounds until four weeks
Continue staying active with regular daily walking. Do not exceed the “talk test.” You should be able to carry on a conversation while walking. You might be a little out of breath, but you should still be able to answer. If you can’t carry on a conversation, you need to slow down.
If your surgical scars are becoming sensitive, desensitization can be helpful. Gently rub the area around the incision with light touch using your finger, a cotton ball, or a t-shirt. Different textures can be used.
Continue to take efforts to avoid constipation and a chronic cough. Continue to eat well with plenty of fiber and water.
Continue to eat well with plenty of fiber and water.
Wear your abdominal binder only as needed at this point, especially for more vigorous activity. Do not rake or shovel snow until 8 weeks after surgery. Limit yard work to 2 hours until 12 weeks after surgery. It is okay to start increasing the weight you can lift but pay attention to pain. If it hurts, back off - it just means your body is ready for that yet.
If it hurts, back off - it just means your body is ready for that yet.
You can move back to life as usual. But continue to be observant and aware. Go slow, and listen to pain. Use good posture and lifting techniques. Continue to avoid constipation and chronic coughing.
Go slow, and listen to pain.
Your chance of normal life without your hernia coming back is excellent, particularly if you follow these directions in the early phases of recovery. There is no evidence that a single strenuous effort will disrupt a completely healed repair, and gradually increasing your level of activity will help you maintain total body health without risking hernia recurrence.
Your chance of normal life without your hernia coming back is excellent
And that's what I call living better! How will I help you live better?