Are you scheduled for orthopedic surgery? Better check a vitamin D level before heading to the operating room. A new study shows that almost half of all people getting orthopedic surgery are vitamin D deficient – and it could affect the outcome of their surgery.
Vitamin D Deficiency before Surgery Could Delay Recovery
According to a study published in The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, vitamin D deficiency among people getting orthopedic surgery is surprisingly common and it could make it harder to heal. When they looked at charts from over 700 patients scheduled for orthopedic surgery, they found forty-percent were vitamin D deficient and an even higher number had levels that were not optimal. This included patients undergoing all types of orthopedic surgery from hip and knee replacements to surgery to repair a fracture. Even some healthy athletes getting surgery for sports-related injuries were vitamin D deficient.
Why are doctors concerned about low vitamin D levels before orthopedic surgery? Vitamin D is critical for successful healing of bones and muscles and being vitamin D deficient can slow down the healing process. Adequate vitamin D levels are especially important in the two to four week period after surgery when bone is actively remodeling as part of the healing process. To have the best chance for proper healing, a person should correct a low vitamin D level before entering the O.R.
Correcting Low Vitamin D Levels before Surgery
Researchers in this study emphasize the importance of correcting vitamin D deficiency before getting bone or muscle surgery. Correcting low vitamin D levels is slow and usually requires high dose vitamin D supplements for at least a month before surgery. Not every surgeon checks a vitamin D level prior to surgery, so you may have to ask to have this test included in your pre-surgical blood work. The sooner a level is drawn before surgery the better – so you’ll have time to correct any vitamin D deficiency.
Low Vitamin D Levels before Surgery: The Bottom Line?
If you plan on undergoing any type of orthopedic surgery, check a vitamin D level at least six weeks before and make sure you’re within the normal range. It could lead to quicker healing – and a better outcome.
Eurekalert.org. “Vitamin D deficiency rampant in patients undergoing orthopedic surgery, damaging patient recovery”