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Hand surgery recovery is a delicate and often frustrating process. Be sure to follow all of your surgeon’s instruction to ensure you regain your full range of motion.
Whatever the reason for your hand surgery, you can prepare yourself by planning a hand surgery recovery timeline with the help of your orthopedic surgeon and following these helpful guidelines:
Tips for Hand Surgery Recovery
All hand surgery recovery periods last at least several weeks— and sometimes months—before you can return to your everyday activities. You can make several minor lifestyle modifications to help keep you comfortable while you are recovering.
- Arrange your home. Arrange your furniture as conveniently as possible for yourself prior to your Place chairs with armrests in rooms that you frequent, so you can use them to rest your recovering hand. Also, try to place items you frequently use where they are easy to reach.
- Label your belongings. Place stickers or labels on items that are heavy or awkwardly balanced to remind yourself not to reach for them. You use your hands automatically, and it can be a difficult habit to break while recovering from hand surgery.
- Prep meals ahead of time. Purchase disposable aluminum bakeware and prepare some meals prior to your surgery that you can later reheat in theBe sure not to use glass or ceramic dishes, which could be too heavy for you to lift!
- Stock up on straws. In the days following surgery, it can be difficult to lift items such as cups and mugs to your mouth to drink. Straws keep you from straining your hand.
- Keep plastic bags handy. Dressings and bandages are there to protect your hand after surgery, so it is important not to get them wet. Refrain from washing your bandaged hand and always protect it with a plastic bag while you shower until your orthopedic surgeon instructs you otherwise.
- Ask for help. This can be the most challenging part of recovery, especially for independent individuals. However, it is important to rely on your family, friends, doctors, nurses, and neighbors for help with everyday tasks when necessary.
- Follow instructions. Remember to follow all of your surgeon’s instructions both before and after surgery. Some instructions may seem like overkill, but they are key to preventing re-injury to your hand.
Timeline for Hand Surgery Recovery
The amount of time it will take you to heal after hand surgery will vary based on the type of surgery you have and the severity of your condition. For example, tendon repair recovery can take up to 12 weeks for your hand to return to full strength and up to 6 months for you to regain a full range of movement.
Other types of surgeries, such as stress fractures, can take anywhere from 6 to 14 weeks to heal. Always consult with your doctor about the projected timeline of recovery prior to and following the surgery so you can plan and prepare accordingly.
In terms of pain, while patients normally experience discomfort and soreness following surgery, this is something that can be alleviated with the correct medication. For minor surgeries—like carpal tunnel or trigger finger surgery—over-the-counter painkillers may be all you need to alleviate your pain.
For more intensive hand surgeries—such as a finger or wrist fusion—anti-inflammatory medication, antibiotics, and prescription painkillers may be prescribed by your surgeon. Even with the proper medication, activity can trigger pain and discomfort. Rest your hand and keep it immobilized as much as possible.