Caring For Your Hands Post-Surgery
If you or a loved one are expecting to have a hand operation or have already undergone a hand joint surgical procedure, you are probably aware that a successful recovery is a top priority. Here are some general guidelines to help you move swiftly down the road to recovery, but remember to always listen to your doctor’s recommendations above anything else.
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It is important to keep your hand elevated after surgery. You want to keep the hand higher than the heart so that swelling is reduced due to blood draining from the extremity. By reducing the swelling, your body will be better able to repair the surgical wounds, which can help reduce pain. For surgeries that do not involve tendon repair, it is usually part of the doctor?s recommendation to squeeze your hand into a fist multiple times during the day. Some doctors even recommend this type of movement up to fifteen times each waking hour to keep swelling down. When the hand is swollen after surgery, it slows down the body?s ability to drain waste from the wounds, and can cause the hand to stiffen. If stiffness occurs for a long period of time, it can make therapy more difficult, and it will take longer to regain full mobility. Moving your hand encourages blood flow throughout the fingers, delivering vital nutrients to your hands and speeding up recovery. Making a fist will also pump fluid away from the hand, and contribute to reduced swelling.
You should never remove any bandaging after surgery until you gain approval from your doctor. Removing the bandages too early can slow the healing process, sending your recovery into a regression. The bandages are used to keep your wounds sterile, and even though your hand may be feeling better, you should not risk exposing the wound until you are told to do so. It is also important to avoid getting the bandages wet because water can support bacterial growth on your hand, and may also inhibit the recovery process. If you decide to take a shower, you should take preventative measures by wrapping your hand in plastic and taping the end around your arm so that water cannot reach the bandages.
Tingling can occur at any time post-surgery, and the anesthetic can last for eight to ten hours after arriving home. If you have trouble managing the pain, talk to your doctor about the types of prescriptions that can be provided to alleviate discomfort, as well as other steps that can be taken. Again, the most important aspect of the recovery process is keeping your hand elevated, which can be done by stacking pillows under the recovering extremity.
Stitches are a common way to promote the healing process within the body, and you may find that you have stitches for up to two weeks after surgery. Some doctors recommend physical therapy right away, because therapy will reduce the amount of scar tissue that develops after this type of surgery. During the physical therapy session, you will have hand massages that physically break up the scar tissue and encourage blood flow. Vitamin E has been proven to support regular tissue growth, and is readily available over the counter in liquid and capsule form.
After surgery, your primary focus should be recovery. Hand therapy will help you develop effected motor skills more quickly, and will reduce the amount of scar tissue. The body is complex and everyone responds differently to treatment, so it is important to discuss any postoperative-related questions with a trusted medical professional.