Crohn's Disease Forum » Surgery » Muscle weakness after surgery

11-07-2013, 07:14 AM   #1
Join Date: Oct 2012

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Muscle weakness after surgery

I posted here: about my surgery and the complications.

I wondered if anyone else has experienced the profound weakness I am currently experiencing. I have had major surgeries before, and never felt like this. For the first two days after this recent surgery, I didn't feel weak - I had pain, felt icky from the anaesthetic (like having the 'flu) but walked around the hospital grounds without too much of a problem. Then I got the ileus I described in the other thread. I didn't get out of bed for about 10 days except to walk (shuffle) across to the bathroom a few times a day.

I'm home now and I feel almost back to normal - I'm no longer nauseous, my pain is there but it's minimal, the fevers have stopped. But I am so so weak! I walk from one room to the next and I need to sit down. I get dressed and lifting my arms to put them through the clothes is exhausting. I am extremely underweight, but I was very underweight before the surgery and, while I wasn't exactly known for my strength or stamina, I could walk at a decent pace and carry out everyday activities - housework, walk the dog, etc. - without thinking about it or feeling tired. I was sleeping terribly in the hospital but the last couple of nights I slept really well so I'm not tired in that sense. For the time I was in hospital, I couldn't eat and I did lose some weight (my bmi was about 13 before the surgery, dread to think what it is now), but I was also given TPN and have no specific nutrient deficiencies.

Has anyone experienced anything like this after surgery? Weakness, arms and legs that ache at the slightest strain, the need to sit down after walking just a few metres?

Do I just rest or do I try and build up stamina through very small amounts of exercise? I'm making myself walk up the stairs and round our small garden everyday. If I eat enough to gain weight will my strength return as I put weight on? Has the muscle wasted from lack of use - can that happen in just a couple of weeks?

I have a feeling if I ask a doctor they won't be concerned because I'm so underweight and just had major surgery - they'll think tiredness is inevitable. But I know this feels different to just being underweight, and it feels different from recovery from previous surgeries. I've wondered if the ileus could cause weakness, but I'm not sure how that would be possible.

Any ideas?

Last edited by UnXmas; 11-08-2013 at 06:45 AM.
11-07-2013, 07:41 AM   #2
nogutsnoglory's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: New York

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Every surgery is different and this one may have just really sapped you of your energy. I think the best thing is to rest up for several weeks and ensure a complete a nutritious diet to regain weight and energy. Who knows why it's different this time but either way your body is just begging for a break.
11-07-2013, 09:32 AM   #3
Senior Member
Join Date: Apr 2013
Hello, hope today finds you feeling a little stronger. It is going to take some time to build yourself back up. Ileus is an awful complication (a bowel that takes its time to wake up). The days that were spent not eating can bring about muscle wasting quickly and cause the fatigue and weakness. The feeling your legs are going to go out from under you when walking. Your arms can't lift what they once could. Re building yourself takes more time then it took to loose it. Nutrition is super important right now. Not empty calories - too much fat has the possibility to cause gallbladder problems. Too much sugar and empty carbohydrates can cause a host of digestive distress (wind bloating the big D) this includes fruit juices. Simple sugars are the best like honey if you can eat it as a sweetener. See a nutritionist for a healthy weight/muscle gain. Ask about supplementing with nutrition drinks that are easily absorbed and digested. Use caution for ones that are laden with sugar. Carnation instant breakfast is a possibility as a added drink. If you can handle foods like eggs, skinless chicken, low lactose cheese - yogurt, peanut butter as a higher fat/protein etc. - think lean proteins and try the more natural whole foods for fats/proteins and grains. Try to eat at least 6 to 8 small meals throughout the day. Surgery can take it's toll. Be gentle with yourself ~ let your incision heal and remember you are healing inside even after it has healed from the outside. When they say don't lift - they mean it. You do not want a hernia! Once healed ~ Then you can start to do a small amount of weight bearing exercise for the arms. For the legs just keep walking as much as you can and when they feel stronger then you could consider a more challenging work out. It is going to take time.
If you are not getting B12 jabs ask about getting that looked into. The more you have removed the more challenging nutrition and diet becomes. So get on it and ask for a nutritionist asap!

May each day bring healing and strength to you.
Much peace.
11-22-2013, 11:54 AM   #4
Join Date: Oct 2012

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Ok, so a couple of weeks on and the weakness has really improved. I can now walk upstairs without it looming over me as a massive exhausting feat anymore. 've been taking my dog for ten minute walks. These do tire me out, but just a couple of weeks ago just standing up tired me out!

Obviously I'm still extremely underweight - that hasn't changed. So I think the cause must have been lying still 24 hours a day, even though it was only for a couple of weeks. I was in such poor condition to begin with, I think that while on bed rest the little muscle that I had just wasted. And now, as I've felt less and less ill in other ways, and so able to stand up and just move around a little more, my strength is coming back.

I believe in not forcing myself to recovery and fitness; when I feel up to doing more, I'll do more. If something feels like it would be too much effort, I listen to that feeling and don't push myself. It will take a long time to get anywhere close to being fit and strong, but I'm happy that I know I am growing stronger.

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