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The Foundry Orthopedics & Sports Medicine Blog

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Post-Surgery/Injury Weight Gain



Unfortunately, some patients who have surgery or sustain an injury will experience weight gain.  I hear this comment so often from patients who have several weeks or months of therapy ahead of them.  This is particularly frustrating for the athlete or anyone leading an active lifestyle who now feels destined to a permanent place on their couch. The average weight gain for most patients following surgery or injury of the knee, hip, shoulder and ankle is between 7 – 15 pounds.  BUT it doesn’t have to be!

You may feel that you have been given a life sentence to your couch but there is hope after surgery or an injury.  Avoiding an expanding waistline can be a challenge but now that Thanksgiving is over, there is no reason to turn into a butterball… leave it for next year’s meal.
Resting, staying still and following the proper post-surgery protocols are part of the healing process, one which must be respected and followed. Most exercises can be performed gently enough that with your MD and PT’s clearance, will help you maintain a healthy level of fitness.

Don’t Give In To A Stagnate State.
If you have a lower body injury, there are many options to exercise the upper extremity within a safe parameter.
If you have an upper body injury, there are also many healthy, safe alternatives to burn some calories.
Here are some helpful hints and tips to maintain your pre-surgery weight as you move through the healing process.


1. Exercise daily - once you’re out of your recovery period and are cleared for gentle exercises - DO THEM! Studies show that moving will help ward off feelings of depression and move you closer to your short term goals. Not sure about what is safe to do? Ask us! Foundry Sports Medicine and Fitness staff is eager to help you with modifications and suggestions in addition to having the education to support you through this transition.  You don’t have to join a gym. Walking is always an option for upper extremity injuries and burns 5 calories per minute. Have access to a pool? There are many exercises gentle and safe enough to perform that will whittle down the waist. Lower body injuries provide an opportunity to challenge the upper extremities with all types of lifting, abdominal work and upper body stability exercises.

2. Healthy Food vs. Comfort Food - It’s very tempting to indulge in the chocolate cake, the macaroni and cheese and all of the other foods that, during this emotional time, will initially make you feel better. It’s very traumatic to have and recover from surgery or an injury. Your lifestyle gets altered, you’re in pain, you’re not independent, you can’t move or work out the way you wish, simple chores or tasks now take a lot of planning to accomplish and so we turn to food for comfort.  This is an important time to really focus on healthy eating so as not to create more “issues with the tissues”.  Whole grains, lean protein, proper hydration, vitamins, lots of fruit and vegetables will “feed” your recovery in a healthy way. Find an appropriate daily caloric intake and keep an eye on portion size. Make the decision to eat small meals and avoid unhealthy snacks.

3. Support - Your weekly therapy and MD appointments are very important visits as you move towards a full recovery. Our job is to support you as you heal and deal with the frustrations of surgery or injury. We can offer lots of suggestions regarding safe ways to exercise plus offer guidance about short term goals which will mentally set you up for success and help you chart your progress. The support offered by other patient’s recovery, who may be one or several weeks ahead of you with their therapy can be very inspiring to get moving and stay on track!

-- Patricia Schneider



Thank you for the tips they were really helpful. I was wondering what healthy foods can I eat to speed up my recovery time.
Posted @ Friday, November 30, 2012 1:31 PM by Antonia
I recently had surgery on one of my knees and with the lack of mobility I had, I gained quite a few pounds.
Posted @ Sunday, January 20, 2013 7:38 PM by Ryan
I had a lumber fusion on July 12 and have gained 7 lbs since that time. Can much of the weight gain be due to swelling?
Posted @ Friday, July 19, 2013 9:13 PM by Chris
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