Hand Doctor Tips for Recovering from Hand Surgery
Recovering from hand surgery can be a delicate process—especially if the hand operated upon was your dominant hand. Remember to always follow the recovery plan and recommendations laid out by your hand doctor as closely as possible.
No matter which type of hand surgery you undergo, preparation is the key to a quick and safe recovery. To ensure that you regain full motion in your hand and fingers, it is important to lay out a recovery timeline with your hand doctor before surgery. These tips and tricks from our hand specialists can help you prepare for the healing process:
1. Arrange Your Home for Post-Surgery Comfort
Prior to your hand surgery, arrange your furniture so you can move through the house easily. Position chairs with armrests around the rooms you’ll be in most often to make resting your recovering hand more convenient. Also, try to place your most frequently used items, like the remote and your toothbrush, within easy reach of your healthy hand.
2. Label Your Belongings
We use our hands automatically, so try placing labels or stickers on heavy, or awkwardly balanced items around your home. The visual reminder will keep you from reaching for them and re-injuring your hand.
3. Invest in Straws and Plastic Bags
Particularly during the first few days after hand surgery, it will be difficult to grasp or lift cups and mugs. Straws can help keep you from straining your hand. Plastic bags will keep the bandages and dressings on your hand dry when you shower. Remember, unless your hand surgeon tells you otherwise, do not wash your bandaged hand or immerse your hand in water.
4. Prepare Your Meals Before Your Surgery
Make several small, freezable casseroles or dishes for yourself ahead of time. Use disposable aluminum bakeware as ceramic and glass will be too heavy for you to manipulate one handed. You can also separate dry snacks and portions of cereal into plastic lunch bags to limit to amount of strain you are putting on your hand.
Hand Surgery Recovery Timeline
The amount of time it takes to heal from hand surgery varies based on your condition, the severity of your symptoms, and the type of surgery performed. For example, recovery from carpal tunnel release surgery usually takes about a week until your splint and bandages are removed, and an additional 3-8 weeks of physical therapy, according to Johns Hopkins University.
On the other hand, according to Healthline, tendon repair recovery can take up to 12 weeks before your cast is removed. Always consult with your hand doctor about the expected recovery timeline for your particular surgery.
Your hand doctor will prescribe you the necessary medications post-operation. For minor surgeries like carpal tunnel or trigger finger release, you may only need to take over-the-counter painkillers. For more intensive hand surgeries you may be prescribed narcotics and antibiotics to help you stave off inflammation and infection.
Follow the prescribed dosage of all medications exactly, and remember to elevate and immobilize your hand as much as possible during recovery.