Elbow Surgery Recovery: Using Holistic Practices for Healing

by | Apr 20, 2021 | 0 comments

Elbow Surgery Recovery and Holism

Elbow surgery recovery can be tough. An elbow fracture is one of the most difficult injuries to recover from. If you’ve had the procedure and are now living through elbow surgery recovery, this article is for you.

Acute Recovery Phase

After surgery, I was sent home in a splinted cast with multiple layers of padding and bandage wrap. I wasn’t to remove anything until I saw my surgeon again, ten days later for follow-up. During the ten casted days, elbow surgery recovery wasn’t terrible.

Sure, I’d take it slow. Rested a lot. Took the pain pills, when I needed them.

The first week of elbow surgery recovery was the easiest. The second week, I noticed I was experiencing more pain. I literally kept telling anyone who would listen, “I can feel my incision. Like where my arm was cut. It really, really hurts. I can feel inside of my arm!”

Looking back, I believe that’s when my elbow surgery recovery started taking a turn for the worse. The second week I really relied on the pain medicine. I was careful not to overdo it, but I was definitely popping a pill every four hours like the bottle said.

Long Road Ahead

The day came. I was back at the surgeon’s office for my ten-day follow-up appointment. The tech removed the wrappings and splint. My arm felt like it had jumped into a cold pool. The shock of my arm experiencing the fresh air was palpable.

“OK, the surgeon will be in shortly to examine you. First, let’s get you over to X-ray,” the tech said.

I didn’t look at my arm. I was terrified of the scar. I just got up, followed the tech, and tried to let the X-ray tech do her job. It was difficult, since I couldn’t really move my arm. I wondered, “Is this normal? Should I be able to move my arm more than I can right now?

Back in my patient room, the surgeon entered. “The X-ray looks beautiful! Your bone is healing. The hardware is fine. No issues. How has the elbow surgery recovery going?”

As far as my arm was, casted up tight, everything was decent. I told the surgeon about my increased pain and sensations of feeling the incision inside of my arm. He assured me that my elbow looked great and sent me off to start occupational therapy (OT) that very day.

Holistic Healing During Elbow Surgery Recovery

I continued with OT three times a week for months. I was given a removable splint and at-home exercises. Life became dreadful.

My pain didn’t go away. In fact, it seemed to get worse. And my elbow wasn’t moving all that well. My arm seemed stuck in place. I was tired, hurting, and feeling very sad.

After a month or so, I decided that I needed more. I couldn’t just rely on Western medicine for elbow surgery recovery. No, I needed healing remedies that would complement conventional care.

It was time for holistic health.

So, get this. I began doing a TON of things for holistic healing. However, in an attempt to avoid overwhelming you… let’s go with three ideas to get you started.

Three Ideas for Holistic Health

1) Spending Time in Nature

No matter what season you find yourself healing from elbow surgery, there’s so much beauty to enjoy. Nature is a wonderful remedy for any health issue.

Florence Nightingale, the founder of nursing, encouraged nurses to consider the environment patients were being treated and cared for in. Nightingale advocated for clean water, fresh air, and routine linen changes. She noticed how patients healed faster and had improved outcomes when the natural environment was tended to.

During elbow surgery recovery, you’ll likely experience a bit of downtime. Not being able to do all the things that you did prior to your surgery, you’ll likely need to fill a void. Spending time, sitting quietly, in nature can be very healing for the body, mind, and soul.

You might consider placing a chair in a quiet spot. Or, taking a slow walk outside. Bird watching can be calming. Just listening to the natural sounds provides for a healing landscape.

Get outside and give it a try!

2) Tap into Your Imagination

Again, we’ve got that downtime going for us. Elbow surgery recovery gifts us with time to pause and play.

After my accident, my husband (of course) went back to work. Initially, I was healing during the summer. My neighbor’s ten-year-old granddaughter was often around, visiting him since she was off from school. Luckily, my neighbor would ask me if I’d like to have his granddaughter over for a quick visit. Of course, my answer was typically, “Sure!”

Oh, how fun it was. The spirit of a child. Feeling my imagination come alive. We’d sit on the porch and color for hours. Sure, I’d have to adjust my pillows that propped up my elbow, from time to time. We crafted constantly. She’d help me walk my dog. We’d chatter on about butterflies and inchworms.

Spending time with children is amazing. The creative, playful side is healing for the soul. And, you don’t need a child to tap into your imagination! There are loads of adult coloring books, crafting do-it-yourself ideas, or other ways for you to embark on your creativity.

Go ahead and have some fun!

3) Reading and Writing

I had lost my will to read. Growing up, I was an avid reader. It continued into adulthood, but not sure why… the past few years I haven’t had the desire to read.

Luckily, being laid up with elbow surgery recovery made me sit still. It gave me time maybe I thought I didn’t have. And, it turned me back on to reading.

Even if you’re like me, experiencing a reading rut, you can read… maybe in a shorter way. How about picking up a magazine on a topic of your interest? Hey, why not partner the crafting suggestions above with reading? You never know… elbow surgery recovery may just spark a new hobby in you!

Writing is also extremely healing. For me, it allows me to get those thoughts that just rumble around inside my mind, out of my head! Once and for all, annoying thoughts are let out and put onto paper.

You know what? I had nightmares about my accident, more than once a week. After I started writing about it, the nightmares disappeared!

Reading brings new ideas. Writing clears outdated thoughts. Pick one or the other and give it a go!

Ready to heal after elbow surgery? Check us out and come join us!

About the Author: Elizabeth Scala MSN/MBA, RN, HNB-BC is a board-certified holistic nurse, registered yoga instructor, and reiki master.

Elizabeth received her dual master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University. She is also a certified coach and Reiki Master Teacher. Elizabeth lives in Maryland with her supportive husband and playful pit bull.


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