Common physical issues

In this section, we've provided some general information and advice on the physical issues patients commonly face during the ward stage of recovery. These include things like general weakness, weight loss, tiredness, joint pain and problems with mobility. Everyone is different. You may or may not experience these issues and they may be more severe or troublesome to some patients than others. Many of these issues will improve over the weeks and months after Intensive Care.

 

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Document: Breathing exercises for breathlessness

This booklet outlines some of the breathing techniques that can be used to help breathlessness. Try out the different approaches. Controlled breathing can be particularly useful if you are feeling very breathless.

Article: Breathlessness

Is it common to feel breathless after Intensive Care? Breathlessness after Intensive Care is very common. Why do I feel breathless? The time you spent in Intensive Care may have caused weakness in your muscles, including those that help you breathe, so they are a bit weaker and have to work a bit harder to help with your breathing. Also while in Intensive Care you can quickly lose your ability to exercise so while running for a bus may have made you breathless before,...

Document: Energy conservation

This booklet outlines techniques that you can use to make the most of the energy you have without making yourself exhausted. These techniques can be used to manage different physical symptoms including breathlessness, fatigue and pain.

External Video: Exercises and Physiotherapy to help recovery

In this clip physiotherapist, Dr Bronwen Connolly explains how critical illness affects joints and muscles to cause joint stiffness and fatigue and how you can practice certain types of exercises to help you recover.

External Video: George's experience of ward care

In this video, George talks about his experiences of care on the wards after Intensive Care. He also talks about his experiences of discharge planning.

External Video: ICU support after transfer to the wards

In this video, Trish talks about her role as an ICU Liaison Nurse at Ninewlls Hospital in Dundee.

Article: Joint stiffness and pain

Patients sometimes suffer from stiff and painful joints after Intensive Care, particularly in the ankles, knees, elbows and shoulders.This can make it difficult to do simple things like getting out of bed, walking around the ward or washing and showering. Why do I have joint stiffness or pain? Patients who have spent longer in Intensive Care seem to be at greater risk of developing joint stiffness and pain. Joint stiffness and pain can be due to several things but is most...

External Video: Managing your physical symptoms using pacing

This short clip will explain what 'pacing' is and how it can be used to manage some of your physical symptoms including breathlessness, fatigue and pain.

Article: Mobility issues (walking)

Once you are transferred to the general ward and are beginning to become more active, you may be surprised to notice that you are perhaps not quite as able to do the things you thought you would. There are a number of reasons for this, not least that you are still in the very early stages of recovering from a serious illness, an operation or an accident. Tiredness and general weakness are extremely common, even if you only spent a short time in Intensive Care or were previously fit and...

Article: Muscle wasting

Why do you get muscle wasting? In the early stages of your illness, it is most likely that you will have experienced a period of unconsciousness, and received support from a breathing machine, or ventilator, for your breathing. During this time you will have been unable to use the muscles in your arms and legs, and move your joints yourself. If the muscle is not used then it will start to reduce in size or waste away. We know from research studies where pictures have been...