Whether you have had wrist surgery for an acute injury like a fracture or for a chronic condition like carpal tunnel syndrome or arthritis, the wrist surgery recovery process is similar - 1) you must immobilize the joint for a period of time while the damaged tissues repair themselves, 2) you will feel a certain amount of discomfort, and 3) you will probably need to work with a physical therapist to regain strength and range of motion.
If you recently had wrist surgery or are about to have a procedure, check out four of the most common wrist surgery recovery questions and answers to help prepare you for the weeks to come:
1. How long will wrist surgery recovery take?
Everybody wants to know when they can get back to their normal lifestyle after wrist surgery. Of course, the answer depends on the reason for your surgery and the severity of the injury, but there are some general guidelines you can follow for common injuries. Wrist fractures typically take about four to six weeks to heal, while carpal tunnel surgery recovery can take anywhere from several weeks up to several months. Your doctor should be able to give you a rough wrist surgery recovery timeline for your particular situation, but you should be prepared for limited activity for at least four weeks.
2. How should I treat pain after wrist surgery recovery?
For most types of wrist surgery, you will only need prescription medication for a day or two after the procedure. After the first day, you can help reduce pain by keeping the arm elevated, applying cold therapy, and using an over-the-counter pain medication as needed. A certain amount of discomfort is normal as your body goes through the healing process, but if you are in extreme pain for more than a day or two after surgery, consult with your physician.
3. What can I do about swelling after wrist surgery?
Swelling is a normal part of the wrist surgery recovery process, but too much of it can be problematic, especially if you are wearing a cast or splint. The most important thing you can do to prevent excessive swelling is keep the wrist elevated above the level of your heart, especially for the first couple days after surgery. You can also apply ice or use a cold therapy system to help reduce swelling. If you are able to move your fingers, periodically open and close your fist to maintain blood flow and keep other fluids moving.
4. What activities should I avoid after wrist surgery?
You will have to make some lifestyle changes while you recover, in order to avoid using the affected wrist. This might include not lifting any objects for a period of time or gradually increasing weight limits to your lifting ability. The specific limitations will depend on the injury, so ask your doctor what you should and should not do while you recover. Prepare as much as possible in advance to help make the wrist surgery recovery process go more smoothly. This includes getting your home ready by putting key items in easily accessible places, preparing food for quick reheating, and having a strategy for controlling pain and swelling.
Using cold and compression therapy throughout your wrist surgery recovery can help accelerate healing while reducing pain and swelling at the same time. Talk to your surgeon or physical therapist about getting a Game Ready cold therapy system for home use during your wrist surgery recovery or contact us today with questions.