Q. I am a woman in my early 50s with hip dysplasia.
I will be undergoing a total hip replacement operation soon.
What kinds of nutritious food should I consume more of after the operation to rebuild my strength? Are there any types of food that I should avoid?
A. Hip dysplasia is a congenital deformation of the hip joint.
In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), deficiencies in the liver, spleen and kidneys, and injury can result in pain and poor hip function from hip dysplasia.
The liver governs the tendons, and the spleen governs the muscles around the joints and converts nutrients into qi (energy) and blood.
A good flow of blood and qi is needed for good health.
When the spleen is weak - due to excessive consumption of cold, spicy and oily food and alcohol - it converts the nutrients into "heat" and "dampness" instead of qi and blood.
When there is insufficient qi and blood, the liver and tendons are unable to be nourished, and the patient may experience symptoms such as tremors, numbness of the limbs, and even difficulty in flexing and extending the limbs.
In TCM, the kidneys produce marrow and control the bones. Nourishment of the bone structure requires essence of nutrients, which is stored in the kidneys.
When the kidneys are weak - due to genetics, ageing and chronic illnesses - the skeletal system weakens.
In people with hip dysplasia, malfunction of the spleen, liver and kidneys triggers soreness and aches in the hip joint, lower back pain and weakness in the limbs.
External injury can weaken qi and blood circulation and create stagnation of qi and blood stasis.
In people with hip dysplasia, this triggers severe pain and swelling in the hip joint, a dry and bitter mouth, a bloated stomach and constipation.
Chinese medicine, acupuncture, moxibustion, cupping therapy and tuina (TCM massage) can help to improve your conditions before and after your surgery by strengthening your organs, and enhancing blood circulation to avoid the stiffness of the joint and to speed up the recovery.
Moxibustion involves burning a small herb above acupuncture points to help healing. Cupping therapy involves placing heated cups on the skin to enhance blood and qi circulation.
Chinese medicine, such as Indian bread, largehead atractylodes rhizome, codonopsis root and milkvetch root strengthen the spleen and build up the hip muscles.
Chinese angelica, Himalayan teasel root, processed rehmannia root and white peony root strengthen the kidneys and increase the amount of blood.
Safflower, peach seed, corydalis tuber, panax notoginseng and red sage root enhance blood circulation.
Chinese taxillus herb, eucommia bark, slenderstyle acanthopanax bark and two tooth achyranthes root strengthen the tendons and bones.
After total hip replacement surgery, you should consume easily digested food, such as porridge.
You should avoid spicy, oily, deep-fried, cold and raw food. Abstain from smoking and alcohol consumption.
In the first two days after total hip replacement surgery, you should also avoid beans and food which is high in sugar to reduce stomach gas.
Thereafter, you can consume food that is high in protein, such as chicken and fish, and food that is high in calcium.
You should also eat food that is rich in vitamins and fibre, such as fruit and vegetables, to avoid constipation and enhance blood circulation.
Have small meals. Cut the meat and vegetables into small pieces before eating to prevent indigestion.
Drink more water - between 1 and 11/2 litres daily - and fruit juice.
Stretching exercises for the affected hip and leg are important to strengthen the hip muscles, maintain the flexibility and enhance the function of the nerves and muscles to reduce swelling after surgery. Such exercise can start as early as eight hours after the surgery.
You should also seek help to turn your body every two hours to prevent bedsores.
MS LIM LAY BENG
Traditional Chinese medicine practitioner at YS Healthcare TCM Clinic at The Adelphi
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