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The Importance of Moving After Surgery

Why is it important to move after surgery? Won’t it be painful?

If you have ever had surgery and had to stay in the hospital afterward, you’ve probably noted that the surgeon and staff frequently encourage patients to get up out of bed and walk as soon as they are able. Yes, it may be painful, but there is a rhyme behind our reason. First, moving and ambulation help prevent blood clots like deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and a pulmonary embolism (PE) from developing. These are potentially fatal, but early ambulation after surgery can significantly decrease one’s risk. Moreover, early ambulation stimulates the lungs to breathe more deeply and thus helps to prevent infections like pneumonia. Early ambulation helps build muscle tone and strength and can promote faster healing by improving oxygen delivery to the tissues. So, walk early and walk often after surgery!

Can You Get Blood Clots In Your Lungs?

Pulmonary Embolisms

Pulmonary embolism (PE) happens when a blood clot forms within the veins and travels to the lungs blocking oxygen transfer to the blood and normal heart function. Blood naturally flows in the body in the veins back to the heart and then to the lungs through the pulmonary artery. When a clot is present, it blocks the normal flow of blood out of the heart leading to chest pain, shortness of breath, cyanosis-blue color, and possible failing heart and death.
 
PE can be caused by deep vein thrombosis (DVT), the formation of clots in blood vessels deep within the body. These clots usually travel to the lungs from a deep vein in the leg, and can develop when your body has thick blood, stagnant blood or injury. This is why it is important to move throughout the day, to stand up and walk, especially after a recent surgery or during long plane flights.
 
Compression stockings and blood thinners can help prevent blood clots and should be prescribed by medical providers for patients deemed at risk. It is best to discuss options on screening and treatments with your primary care provider.