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Mindfulness in Hip and Knee Surgery

Being aware of how you feel, and putting yourself into a good state of mind before, during and after surgery can have an impact on the outcomes of surgery, especially surgery as large as hip and knee replacement surgery. In this weeks article, we join Dr Sharon Robertson of Davies and Robertson as she discusses the role of Mindfulness in those undergoing hip and knee surgery. Dr Robertson can be reach for bookings at her office on (08) 8361 9724 or by clicking the link above. Dr Chien-Wen Liew is pleased to present the following article on Mindfulness…

 

Mindfulness

If you are preparing for knee or hip surgery, it is understandable that you may fear feeling pain, the unknown, and the idea of rehabilitation post-op. Of course this is a very normal response, however you may not know that fear can create psychological stress which has been linked to poorer pain management and functional outcomes in some people*.

So, if you would like to know more about how to build your own resilience prior, during or even after surgery, mindfulness may be just the skill you need to conquer your fear, and improve your treatment outcomes and quality of life. 

Have you noticed that when you are doing familiar or very repetitive tasks like cooking or driving the car, that often your mind is miles away focusing on completely different things? This lack of focus is often described as the ‘automatic pilot’ mode. When we remain unaware of what we are thinking, doing or feeling we can often fail to experience all that life has to offer, and sometimes this can lead to depression, anxiety, over eating and a lack of life satisfaction.

The opposite to this ‘mindless’ state is mindfulness (meaning awareness). Originally adapted from Buddhist meditation practices, this skill promotes our ability to break free from our often unhelpful, negative beliefs about ourselves and the world we are living in. This is achieved by promoting an open, curious and non-judgemental awareness, with a focus on the present moment.

With daily practice it is possible to develop some much needed space to observe, describe and participate fully with our experiences, and research has shown mindfulness can reduces stress, emotional eating, the experience of pain and improve quality of life overall. 

There are a number of ways that mindfulness can be taught and practiced. Sometimes this can be formal meditation classes, or simply choosing to bring mindful awareness to daily experiences.

In truth, when any sense (taste, touch, smell, sight, sound) is focused on fully, it has the ability to still the mind and replace the analytical ‘thinking mode’ with the more sensual or ‘sensing mode’.

My patients enjoy focusing on their breathing- really noticing how it feels as their breath moves through the nose, gently explands the lungs and is released again through the mouth without any change to their normal rate or depth of breathing. When they notice their mind wanders away from the focus on the breath (as all minds do!), they train themselves to return to their mindful anchor, in this case focusing on the movement of their breath. If you would like to give this a try, I have included the mp3 version my patients use to practice mindful meditation you can download.

There are many free examples of mindfulness training on the internet, however the quality of teaching varies widely. If you would like to understand more about the science of mindfulness please follow the link to hear Dr Craig Hassed from Monash University explain the neurobiology of mindful practice. You can also download the free mindfulness app designed to get you started and support your mindfulness practice from the same site. 

https://www.smilingmind.com.au/mindfulness/

Remember Mindfulness is a skill that will need lots of practice, however based on my own and my patients experiences it is well worth your time.

Dr Sharon Robertson

* Dowsey, M. M., Castle, D. J., Knowles, S. R., Monshat, K., Salzberg, M. R., & Choong, P. F. (2014). The effect of mindfulness training prior to total joint arthroplasty on post-operative pain and physical function: study protocol for a randomised controlled trial. Trials15, 208. doi:10.1186/1745-6215-15-208.

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