Navigating Recovery after Rheumatoid Arthritis Surgery: Do’s and Don’ts

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Recovery after Rheumatoid Arthritis Surgery

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune condition that affects millions of people worldwide, causing pain, inflammation, and joint damage. In cases where conservative treatments no longer provide relief, surgery becomes an option to improve joint function and reduce pain. However, recovery after rheumatoid arthritis surgery is a critical phase of the treatment journey. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the essential do’s and don’ts to ensure a smooth and successful recovery process.

Understanding Rheumatoid Arthritis Surgery

Rheumatoid arthritis surgery is typically considered when joint damage is severe and impacts daily life significantly. Common surgical procedures include joint replacement (arthroplasty), synovectomy (removing the inflamed lining of the joint), and tendon repair. The goal of these surgeries is to reduce pain, improve joint function, and prevent further damage.

10 Do’s for a Successful Recovery after Rheumatoid Arthritis Surgery

Follow Medical Advice

Your healthcare team will provide detailed post-operative instructions. Follow these guidelines meticulously, including medication schedules, physical therapy, and wound care.

Manage Pain Effectively

Pain management is crucial during recovery. Take prescribed pain medications as directed and communicate any issues or concerns with your healthcare provider.

Physical Therapy

Engage in physical therapy sessions as recommended by your surgeon. These exercises are tailored to your specific needs and help improve joint mobility and strength.

Rest and Relaxation

Rest is essential for the healing process. Adequate sleep and relaxation will help your body recover more efficiently.

Maintain a Balanced Diet

A nutritious diet plays a vital role in recovery. Ensure you get a balanced intake of vitamins and minerals to support healing and immune function.


Stay well-hydrated, as it aids in tissue healing and overall well-being.

Wound Care

Keep surgical incisions clean and dry. Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions for dressing changes and care to prevent infection.

Assistive Devices

Use assistive devices like crutches, walkers, or braces as recommended. These aids provide stability and reduce the risk of falls.

Emotional Support

Recovery after surgery can be emotionally challenging. Seek support from friends, family, or a therapist to cope with any emotional stress.

Monitor for Complications

Be vigilant for signs of infection, blood clots, or other complications. Contact your healthcare provider immediately if you experience unusual symptoms.

9 Don’ts for a Successful Recovery after Rheumatoid Arthritis Surgery

Avoid Skipping Medications

Stick to your prescribed medication regimen. Skipping doses can hinder your recovery.

Don’t Rush Physical Activity

While physical therapy is essential, avoid overexertion or pushing yourself too hard. Follow your therapist’s recommendations and avoid high-impact activities.

Limit Alcohol and Smoking

Excessive alcohol consumption and smoking can slow down the healing process. It’s best to minimize or eliminate these habits during recovery.

Avoid Unapproved Supplements

Consult your healthcare provider before taking any supplements or herbal remedies, as some may interfere with your recovery.

Don’t Neglect Follow-Up Appointments

Regular follow-up appointments with your surgeon are crucial for monitoring your progress and addressing any concerns.

Resist the Urge to Self-Modify Devices

If you’re using assistive devices like crutches or braces, do not modify them without consulting your healthcare provider or therapist.

Don’t Ignore Pain

Pain is a natural part of the recovery process, but severe or worsening pain should not be ignored. Contact your healthcare provider promptly.

Avoid Isolation

Staying isolated during recovery can lead to emotional distress. Stay socially connected and seek emotional support when needed.

Don’t Neglect Mental Health

Mental health is just as important as physical health during recovery. If you’re struggling emotionally, don’t hesitate to seek professional help.

The Importance of Patience and Persistence

Recovery after rheumatoid arthritis surgery can be a challenging and lengthy process. It’s essential to remember that everyone’s journey is unique, and progress may be slow at times. Patience and persistence are key to a successful recovery. Celebrate small milestones along the way, and stay focused on your long-term goals of improved joint function and reduced pain.


Recovery after rheumatoid arthritis surgery is a transformative journey that requires diligence and commitment. By following the do’s and avoiding the don’ts, you can maximize your chances of a successful recovery and enjoy an improved quality of life. Your healthcare team will be your guide throughout this process, providing support and guidance every step of the way. With time, patience, and dedication, you can regain your mobility and live a fulfilling life even after facing the challenges of rheumatoid arthritis.

St Paul Rheumatology