after your hand surgery
If in doubt, contact the rooms.
Some swelling is expected following hand surgery. Hand elevation will help decrease swelling and pain.
Keep your hand elevated above the level of your heart, as much as feasible for 2 days. While sitting or lying, place your arm on pillows to keep it elevated. While walking around, keep your hand elevated on your opposite shoulder.
If fitted with a sling, remove it every few hours to gently exercise the shoulder and elbow. Stop wearing it after 2 days.
The postoperative dressing or cast is a very important part of your treatment. Generally, it should be left intact until your post operative visit.
It should feel quite firm and supportive. If it does feel too tight, loosen the outer layers (crepe bandage), but please do not remove the innermost layer or adjust the plaster of any splint. If it still feels tight, contact the rooms or the hand therapists.
If blood shows on the outer layers, add additional padding rather than removing the bandage (and contact the rooms during working hours).
Place and seal a large plastic bag over your hand when you shower to prevent it from getting wet.
Gentle exercises (opening and closing) of any exposed fingers are encouraged.
You will often see the hand therapists at your first post-op visit. For some procedures (e.g. repair of tendons or fractures), earlier therapy is important. If the post-op instructions are for early hand therapy, please phone to make that appointment.
Limit strenuous activity for at least the first week following surgery (this can otherwise increase swelling, discomfort and the risk of infection).
How much you can use your hand varies with the particular operation. The post-op management is very different, for example, after carpal tunnel surgery compared to a major flexor tendon reconstruction. This will be discussed in detail before and after surgery.
Long-acting local anaesthetic is almost always used. Do not be concerned if you have numbness for even 36 hours.
Severe pain is not usual following hand surgery. If the prescribed simple pain-killers are not effective, please contact us.
Fortunately, emergency problems following hand surgery are very rare. If you have concerns, and cannot contact the rooms, please see either your GP or the local Emergency Department, and ask them to contact the on-call Hand Registrar at Liverpool/Fairfield Hospital (9616 8111).
See also post-operative problems.
If in doubt, contact the rooms