After Hand Surgery

After Hand Surgery

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After Hand Surgery

After surgery, the better you take care of yourself—especially your hand—the sooner it will heal. Follow your surgeon’s instructions. Try not to bump your hand, and don’t move or lift anything while you’re still wearing bandages, a splint, or a cast.

Person in shower with arm elevated and covered with plastic

Man in chair with arm elevated

Care for your hand

  • Keep your hand elevated above heart level as much as possible for the first several days after surgery. This helps reduce swelling and pain.

  • To help prevent infection and speed healing, take care not to get your cast or bandages wet.

Relieve pain as directed

Your surgeon may prescribe pain medication or suggest you take an anti-inflammatory medication. You might also be instructed to apply ice (or another cold source) to your hand. If you use ice cubes, put them in a plastic bag and rest it on top of your bandages. Leave the cold source on your hand for as long as it’s comfortable. Do this several times a day for the first few days after surgery. It may take several minutes before you can feel the cold through the cast or bandages.

Follow up with your surgeon

During a follow-up visit after surgery, your surgeon will check your progress. The stitches, bandages, splint, or cast may be removed. Or a new cast or splint may be placed. If your hand has healed enough, your surgeon may prescribe exercises.

Do prescribed hand exercises

Your surgeon may recommend that you do exercises. These may be done under the guidance of a physical therapist. The exercises strengthen your hand, help you regain flexibility, and restore proper function. Do the exercises as advised.

Call your surgeon if you have...

  • A fever higher than 100°F taken by mouth.

  • Side effects from your medication, such as prolonged nausea.

  • A wet or loose dressing, or a dressing that is too tight.

  • Excessive bleeding.

  • Increased, ongoing pain or numbness.

  • Signs of infection (such as drainage, warmth, or redness) at the incision site.