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Managing After Hand Surgery

What can I expect after hand surgery?

Recovery after hand surgery depends greatly on the type of surgery you had and the underlying cause of your hand condition. Sometimes, you will need a series of surgical procedures to address your condition. The hand is complex and very sensitive. Mild to severe pain may be expected after many types of hand surgeries. You may take pain medicines as prescribed to help ease the discomfort. Keeping your hand raised (elevated) can be very helpful to reduce swelling. The following are some of the other possible outcomes that you may be told to expect after hand surgery:

  • Your hand may be kept from moving with a bandage or splint after surgery. Your healthcare provider will tell you how long to wear the bandage or splint. After certain types of surgeries, you may need to keep your hand from moving for weeks or months at nighttime to help you recover.

  • You may have some limits placed on activities and work after the surgery. Your provider will tell you what these are and when you can do more.

  • Your healthcare provider will most likely advise rehab (rehabilitation) to increase the strength and function of the hand. Rehab may include physical therapy, occupational therapy, or both. A trained specialist will help you in your recovery.

Therapy of the hand may include:

  • Exercises for the hand

  • Heat therapy

  • Massage therapy

  • Splinting

  • Traction

  • Nerve stimulation

In many cases, surgery is just the start of recovery. You may need intensive rehab to regain the best functioning of your hand. It's important to follow all of the directions given to you after surgery by your healthcare provider and any other specialists involved in your care.