Instructions for After Surgery
Elevation of the hand is very important after any surgery or injury to the hand. The hand should be kept at a level that is higher than your heart in order to cause fluid to drain from the hand. This is very important to prevent swelling. A swollen hand will be painful, and a swollen hand will also become stiff. It is important to make a full fist and fully straighten your fingers ten times an hour after any hand surgery or injury that does not involve a tendon repair. This motion will pump the fluid out of the fingers and thereby prevent swelling.
Do not change the bandages or splint after surgery until the first post operative visit with Dr. Miller. The bandages must also be kept dry. Showering should be done with a large plastic bag over the hand and arm, securely taped just below the shoulder. By keeping the hand fully elevated, it is possible to take a brief shower without getting the bandages wet.
After an operation that has been done under a local anesthetic, or local anesthetic with sedation, it is common to experience numbness and tingling in the hand for eight to ten hours or longer. A prescription for a pain reliever will be given to you after the surgery and we recommend that you fill the prescription, although frequently only one or two pills will be necessary. The most important aspect of pain relief after hand surgery is strict elevation of the hand.
Stitches are usually removed ten to fifteen days after hand surgery. A scar massage program is then begun, using Vitamin E oil, briskly rubbed into the scar for five minutes, twice a day. The oil may be purchased without a prescription; it is also fine to use the oil from a capsule of Vitamin E. The massage program is continued for at least one month.
Hand therapy may be necessary after surgery for a variety of reasons. Making a special splint, regaining motion, managing scars, etc. are all areas that a Hand Therapist can help with.