Q and A

Knee Replacement? Use Protein for Faster Recovery


Total joint replacements may be unavoidable for a certain percent of the population. Replacing any joint is a very invasive procedure that requires adequate recovery.

For folks that may be a little bit older, or for those who may have a challenging time recovering from things, it would be advantageous to have something that could speed the recovery process.

Honestly, something that would speed recovery AND attenuate muscle loss would really be ideal.

A recent study looked at doing just that.

A small, but promising, double blind, placebo controlled study looked at the effects of the ingestion of essential amino acids on recovery from total knee replacement surgery in older adults.

For one week prior to surgery half of the participants received 20 grams of essential amino acids (EAA) twice daily between meals. This protocol was continued for 2 weeks post surgery as well.

Subjects who received the EAA slowed muscle loss by 4.6 fold over those receiving placebo at the 2 weeks post surgery mark. WOW!!!

EAA ingestion didn’t just aid in preventing muscle loss in the operated leg, the non-operated leg also saw decreased muscle loss when compared to the placebo group. Score!

Additionally, adding this small, but daily dose of EAA also sped the return of functional mobility in the operated leg when it was measured 6-weeks after surgery.

It is a relatively well-known fact that (most) older adults tend to eat a nutrient sparse, low protein diet. It is also no secret that as we age our ability to build and maintain muscle mass is challenged.

Increasing nutrient intake to aid in recovery would serve older adults well. Especially when surgery is knocking on their door.

Knowing the impact that EAA can have on recovery may lead more surgeons, physical therapist, and doctors to recommend this to their patients. If they don’t, you should.

Dryer H. Strycker L. Senesac H. Hocker A. Smolkowski K. et al. Essential amino acid supplementation in patients following total knee arthroplasty. J Clin Invest. doi:10.1172/JCI70160.

Arny Ferrando: injury recovery and anti aging
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