Using Creatine Supplements after Joint Surgery

by Jsantos, September 28, 2013

Using Creatine Supplements after Joint Surgery

Creatine supplements are routinely used by bodybuilders, as well as other athletes hoping to build their performance. It’s a natural supplement found in the human body, and produced by the pancreas, as well as the kidneys and liver. Creatine’s role in the body is as a source of energy during high-intensity exercises of short duration (think of sprints). In addition, it’s thought that creatine can help build muscle strength as well as muscle mass. Because of its strength-enhancing properties, creatine has been used in rehabilitation after many forms of joint surgery, including ACL reconstruction. Does this supplement actually offer any benefits?

The New Outlook on Creatine Supplementation after Joint Surgery

Creatine has been used frequently in sports training and bodybuilding, but it has also played a role in therapeutic treatments. The thought here is that it aids in building muscle strength after surgery, although that has never been conclusively proven, and individuals exhibit a broad range of results with creatine use.

However, recent studies have indicated that there is no benefit to be gained from using creatine after joint surgery, particularly where knee surgery is involved. A study conducted at Lenox Hospital in New York studied 60 patients after ACL reconstructive surgery. The study was prospective, randomized and double blind.

All 60 patients underwent examinations prior to and after enrolling in the study. Examinations included range of movement, body fat percentage, as well as height and weight, and bodily strength testing. Patients were prescribed either creatine or a and the results tracked over the course of the study. Both groups showed significant improvement through rehabilitation and physical therapy, but the group given creatine showed no more improvement than the group given a placebo. In fact, the authors of the study noted that creatine did not result in any gains in power, outcome measurements or muscle strength as compared to the placebo.

Side Effects of Treatment with Creatine

While creatine is a natural supplement found both outside of and within the human body, there are some side effects patients should be aware of if they opt to recover from joint surgery with the help of this supplement.

Creatine side effects range from mild to severe, and most are rare, but patients should still be aware of their potential.

Side effects include muscle cramping, lowered tolerance of heat, symptoms of dehydration and changes in urine amounts. Seizures are rare but serious side effects. Some patients develop a rash or itching and swelling, and other rare allergic reactions include difficulty breathing and severe dizziness.

Additionally, patients with kidney or liver disease, or those with diabetes should consult their doctor before taking creatine at any time.

The Best Option for Recovery after Joint Surgery

Whether you’ve had ACL reconstructive surgery or another type of joint surgery, the most important consideration is to follow your orthopedic doctor’s recommendations for physical therapy and rehabilitation. In fact, a growing body of evidence suggests that rehabilitation and physical therapy should be attempted prior to any type of joint surgery (particularly in the case of ACL tearing). Many patients are able to regain most of their range of motion, strength and power with only rehabilitation, rather than going through the rigors of surgical intervention.

The most important aspect of going through rehabilitation and physical therapy versus using creatine after joint surgery is exercise. Physical exercise is vital to improving muscle strength power. Given the lack of actual results involving creatine supplementation (even combined with exercise), patients will see the most benefits from following a routine set forth by a certified physical therapist.




Surgeon’s Advice | Leon Mead MD Orthopedic Doctor | 730 Goodlette Road North, Suite 201  Naples Florida 34102 | Phone: (239) 262-1119

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