Immediately after surgery:
- Dressings: Following surgery, a compressive is applied to the ankle until the stitches are removed in 10-14 days at your follow-up visit. The dressings should not be removed until your follow-up. Keep the dressing clean and dry. You may shower or bathe, but must keep the dressing covered with a bag to prevent it from getting wet.
- Bleeding: Many times there is some oozing from the incision(s) under the dressing, this is normal. You may reinforce the dressing with gauze if needed.
- Swelling: Swelling is expected and consistent elevation of the hand is the most important thing to do to improve this. Swelling can cause you to have some numbness in the fingers initially. Try to elevate the hand above the level of the heart for the 1-2 weeks after surgery.
- Relief of Pain: Please refer to the separate pain management handout that you will be given on the day of your surgery. Do not drink alcohol while taking a prescribed pain medication. Stool softeners should be taken to help avoid constipation that can develop from pain medication and can be purchased at your pharmacy without a prescription.
- After Anesthesia: Nausea and vomiting can occur, although unusual. If you have a tendency for this, please discuss this with the anesthesiologist before surgery. This can usually be alleviated with a clear liquid diet, slowly advancing to a bland and then regular nutritious diet as you feel better. Drowsiness can also persist for 48 hours after anesthesia. Slight fever is also normal post operatively, but you should notify your surgeon if you have a temperature greater than 101.5 degrees.
- Activities: You should keep your fingers and thumb moving to prevent stiffness. Try to make a full fist with the finger tips touching the palm and then fully straighten them out. Do not lift anything heavier than a pen, do not push off with the hand, or put weight on the hand.
- Driving: Do not drive if you are taking narcotic pain medication. It is not safe. The medicine can make you sleepy and delay your reactions. When you are no longer taking pain medication, you may drive as soon as you can comfortably grip the steering wheel with both hands. It is generally best to avoid long drives until the initial 2-4 weeks after surgery. If you only have manual transmission, this may delay your return to driving.
Two weeks after surgery:
- Follow-up: You will follow-up with the surgeon at approximately 10-14 days after surgery to have your incision checked and your sutures removed.
- Showering after suture removal: Showers are acceptable 24 hours after the splint and sutures are removed. Your sutures are usually removed at your first post-operative appointment. Once the sutures are removed in clinic we will place steri-strip bandages over the incision. Leave these on until they peel off on their own. Do not soak the wrist in a tub or submerge it. You need to keep your incisions as dry as possible. After showering, make sure that you carefully pat dry the ankle area.
- Physical Therapy/Activities: At the 2 week mark, we may place you into a removable wrist brace. You should use this brace for 1-4 weeks until you are comfortable not using it. If using the wrist brace, remove this at least 3 times per day and start working on gentle wrist range of motion exercises. You should continue to avoid lifting anything heavier than a cup of water and avoid putting weight on the hand. It takes approximately 6 weeks for the wrist fracture to heal. At this point we may start physical therapy to help restore range of motion and strength. Therapy will either be done on your own or you will be referred to a physical therapist at the discretion of your surgical team.
- Signs of Infection: With any surgery it is important to be aware of signs of infection, which include: increased redness or odor, drainage from incision, and increased fever (above 101.5 degrees); you should contact our office if any of these signs are noted.
Six to eight weeks after surgery:
- Swelling: Wrist swelling usually persists for about 4-6 months.
- Physical Therapy/Activities: At this point, you can gradually resume daily normal activities. The goal of therapy is to restore motion, strength, and dexterity. Organized physical therapy may be needed to help with this. You may not feel like returning to heavy work until 12-16 weeks after surgery.
Return to work guidelines:
- Desk job: We recommend taking 3 days to 2 weeks off to rest. If it is your dominant hand and you do a lot of keyboarding work it may be longer. If it is crucial that you return to work and you can do so with limited use of the operative hand, it is ok to do so. We recommend that you are off of narcotic pain medications or have a way to get to work. Continue to keep the hand elevated above your heart as much as you are able while at work.
- Light duty: If your work requires you to use your hands for light lifting activities, you may be allowed to return to work 4-6 weeks after surgery. This can be discussed with your surgical team at follow up visits. It takes a minimum of 4-6 weeks for the bones to heal and during this time you will have a lifting restriction.
- Heavy labor: Expect to be off of work for up to 3-4 months. If light duty work is available, then refer to above restrictions.
Call the office for:
- Pain not controlled by pain medications, rest, and elevation.
- Temperature >100.5 or chills.
- Contact us at: (503) 659-1769