The Importance of Aftercare for Hand Surgery

Hand surgery describes any surgical procedure performed on the hand that aims to improve its function, relieve pain, or both. This term includes joint replacements, tendon and nerve repairs, bone realignments, surgical drainage of cysts, and more. Hand surgery is usually a last resort after more conservative treatments, but surgery alone isn’t a silver bullet for hand issues. Aftercare is a vital piece of the surgery puzzle and essential for your surgery’s success. In this article, we explain the importance of aftercare and what to expect during this process.

Why Aftercare Matters

Hand and wrist area properly wraped in a medical bandage.

Aftercare helps you recover from your surgery and get the best results from the procedure. Following the aftercare instructions:

Expected Recovery Time

Recovery time varies from patient to patient. It may depend on such factors as the type of procedure, the severity of your condition, your age, and your health, as well as if you’ve followed the aftercare instructions. Your surgeon should give you a reasonable estimate before your procedure so you can plan and prepare for this process.

Generally speaking, most people who’ve had hand surgery feel ready to return to work and normal home duties after two to four months. It can take several more months, perhaps more than a year, before you feel entirely recovered and have your full range of motion. However, this shouldn’t prevent you from participating in normal activities.

What To Expect When You’re Healing

Your body will go through changes as it recovers and heals after surgery. Understanding these changes can help you know what’s normal and what needs attention. While surgery is helpful, your body doesn’t understand this. It treats your incision site like any injury, sending fluid to the area containing cells that promote healing and prevent infection. All this fluid naturally causes swelling. While you can reduce the amount of swelling by following your aftercare instructions, some degree of swelling is normal. As with other injuries, bruising is also common but should fade in time.

Your hand may feel numb for up to 24 hours until the anesthetic wears off. Afterward, you may feel some pain, often like a burning sensation or a tingling feeling in your hand. The more complex your surgery, the more pain you may experience. Painkillers can help you manage postoperative pain. Your surgeon will advise you on the appropriate painkillers for your needs. They might suggest over-the-counter options for minor surgery or prescribe stronger painkillers after more complex procedures.

How To Care For Your Hand After Surgery

Your surgeon and rehabilitation team will tell you how to care for your hand after your surgery. Instructions may vary depending on such factors as your procedure and age, so it’s vital to listen to your health team carefully and follow their advice. Common ways to care for your hand after surgery include:

At the Hand and Wrist Institute, we understand the importance of aftercare and want to make it as easy as possible for our patients. We take the time to explain aftercare in easy-to-understand terms and encourage you to ask as many questions as you need before your surgery to clarify this process. We’re also just a phone call away should you ever need us during your recovery. Contact our Southlake office at 817-968-1221 or our Dallas team at 214-308-1958 to schedule an appointment.

Orthopedics Bandage Hand Chalk by sferrario1968 is licensed with Pixabay License

Dr. John Knight
Dr. John Knight

Dr. Knight is a renowned hand, wrist and upper extremity surgeon with over 25 years of experience. Dr. Knight is a Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon and Fellowship trained. Dr Knight has appeared on CNN, The Doctors TV, Good Morning America, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Forbes, The Huffington Post, Entrepreneur, Oxygen network and more.