Arms ache after holding them up

If you’re still experiencing pain in your hands after your surgery, you may be able to alleviate it with home care.

If you’re unable to find relief from home, or if your pain is continuing after your surgery, you may be advised to seek the help of a hand surgeon.

The hand surgeon will perform a free hand surgery to relieve the pain. They will perform at least two surgeries to relieve the pain.

The hand surgeon will often take an X-ray of your injured hand to see if the bones and joints are healing properly. They will also look at the strength and function of the hand.

What is the recovery from a hand surgery like?

Recovery from a hand surgery is generally straightforward and relatively quick. However, there are some things you might expect to see or feel after your surgery.

This will depend on the type of surgery you had, your age, and the severity of your injury.

Recovery from a hand surgery can take anywhere from a few days to a week or more.

You may need additional surgeries if you experience:

  • Pain that doesn’t go away
  • Difficulty moving and/or using your hand
  • Swelling in your hand
  • Numbness in your hand
  • Stiffness
  • Difficulty using your hand
  • Weakness in your hand
  • Decreased range of motion in your hand
  • A gap between your thumb and index finger
  • Difficulty opening and closing your hand
  • Difficulty gripping objects

Most of these symptoms will resolve within a few weeks after your surgery.

What’s the outlook for a hand surgery?

After a hand surgery, you’ll likely experience some pain, swelling, and stiffness. However, these should resolve quickly.

Your hand surgeon will give you personalized aftercare instructions, so you should know what to expect.

You may also need a cast or splint to keep your hand immobile during recovery.

Your surgeon will likely recommend that you:

  • Rest your hand for the first few days after surgery.
  • Use ice packs to reduce swelling and pain.
  • Avoid using your hand for at least a week after surgery.
  • Use a sling to keep your hand immobile for at least a week.

How do I prepare for a hand surgery?

Before your hand surgery, your doctor will recommend that you:

  • Stop taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for a few days before surgery.
  • Stop smoking two weeks before surgery.
  • Avoid drinking caffeine and alcohol for at least 2 weeks before surgery.

Your doctor will also give you specific instructions on how to prepare for your surgery.

Your doctor will likely advise you to:

  • Lose weight: If you weigh over 150 pounds, you may need to have your surgery performed by a hand surgeon that specializes in weight loss surgery.
  • Eat a healthy diet: Your doctor will advise you to eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and protein.
  • Get proper sleep: You may need to take a nap during the day to help your body rest.
  • Wear a splint or cast: Your doctor will advise you to wear a cast or splint for at least four weeks after your surgery. This will help keep your hand immobile.

How do I get ready for a hand surgery?

Once you’re ready to go ahead with your surgery, your doctor will:

  • Perform a physical exam.
  • Check your medical history and ensure that you’re healthy enough for surgery.
  • Talk to you about the risks and possible complications of the surgery, such as bleeding, infection, and scarring.
  • Order X-rays, an MRI, or an ultrasound of your hand.
  • Check your blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing rate during the surgery.

What happens during a hand surgery?

Your surgeon will perform a free hand surgery. This means they’ll operate on your hand using their own instruments.

If you had a thumb reconstruction, your surgeon will likely put a splint or cast on your thumb during surgery.

Your surgeon will:

  • Clean and prepare your hand.
  • Locate the injury and check for any further injuries.
  • Anesthetize your hand if it’s been numb.
  • Clean and cut away any damaged tissue.
  • Place sutures into your hand.
  • Insert screws, plates, or other devices if necessary.

What happens after a hand surgery?

After a hand surgery, you may experience pain, swelling, and stiffness. This should go away within a few weeks.

You may also experience:

  • Weakness in your hand.
  • Numbness in your palm.
  • A gap between your thumb and index finger, especially if your surgeon used a thumb osteotomy.
  • Difficulty opening and closing your hand.
  • Difficulty gripping objects.
  • Difficulty using your hand.

Your surgeon will give you individual aftercare instructions for the first few days after your surgery.

These may include:

You may need to use ice packs to reduce swelling and pain.
You should avoid using your hand for at least a week after surgery, especially if you had a splint or cast on your hand.
You may also need to wear a sling to keep your hand immobile.

How can I prevent a hand surgery?

You can take several steps to reduce your risk of a hand surgery:

  • Eat a balanced diet: Eat a healthy diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and protein.
  • Stop smoking: Try to stop smoking for at least two weeks before your surgery.
  • Exercise: Exercising regularly can reduce your risk of a hand injury.
  • Consider a hand surgeon: If you smoke and have obesity, you may need to have your surgery done by a hand surgeon who specializes in weight loss surgery.

You can also avoid surgery by:

  • Avoiding certain activities, such as driving or operating machinery.
  • Using ice packs to reduce swelling and pain.
  • Wearing a splint or cast to keep your hand immobile.

Closing thoughts

Hand surgery is usually a last resort for people who’ve had multiple hand injuries.

If you’ve had a thumb injury, your surgeon may recommend hand surgery to get you back to your normal level of independence.

If you have a wrist or arm injury, your surgeon will recommend other treatments for you.

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