Slip-and-fall accidents, carpal tunnel syndrome, and sports injuries are some of the most common reasons for wrist surgery. Regardless of why you have to undergo a procedure, in the end you want to recover from surgery as quickly as possible. Being unable to use your hand and wrist presents several challenges. In addition to being unable to do certain types of work, it is also difficult to do normal everyday activities. The faster you can recover from wrist surgery, the faster you can return to your normal life.
Tips for Wrist Surgery Recovery
While you can’t avoid certain limitations throughout the recovery process, there are steps you can take to help accelerate healing. Follow these tips to help you return to normal function more quickly.
1. Manage Swelling
Not only is the swelling that comes after wrist surgery uncomfortable, improperly managing it can prolong the recovery process. When swelling is not effectively controlled, more healthy cells are damaged and must be repaired. This means that it can take longer to fully restore healthy tissues.
You can help control swelling by applying cold and compression immediately after surgery and throughout the recovery process. It’s common for people to stop applying cold therapy after the first few days when the swelling has died down, but there can be inflammation in the tissues for weeks after surgery. Continuing to apply cold and compression can help keep the healing process moving quickly. If you’re looking for a cold therapy treatment that is more convenient and more effective than ice packs, consider a cold and compression therapy unit.
2. Ask for Help
Getting ample rest after any type of surgery is critical. For many people, this means stepping out of the usual routine and allowing others to take on more of your responsibilities. This might not be easy to do, but the more help you can get with cooking, driving, and other types of daily activities, the less likely you are to re-injure yourself while trying to do a simple task.
3. Keep Your Arm Elevated
While you’re resting (which should be often), be sure to keep your arm elevated as much as possible. This will help reduce the amount of fluid that is able to flow to the injured area, thus reducing swelling.
What to Avoid During Wrist Surgery Recovery
While there are plenty of proactive steps you can take during wrist surgery recovery, there are a few things to avoid as well.
4. Don’t Smoke
Smoking impedes the body’s ability to heal itself, so if you smoke after surgery, your recovery can take longer. This is a great opportunity if you have been thinking about quitting, and the inability to use your hand and wrist can be a strong motivator.
5. Limit Pain Medications
Some types of pain medications can impact the healing process, so check with your doctor if this is a concern. Taking pain medications can also increase the risk of re-injury because you can’t feel the pain associated with certain movements. You can help reduce the amount of pain medication you need by using cold and compression therapy to temporarily numb the pain. You can apply this treatment as often as recommended/prescribed without worrying about unwanted side effects or risk of addiction.
6. Don’t Jump into Activities Too Soon
Nobody likes to sit on the sidelines, but doing too much too soon after wrist surgery can set you back even longer. Try to avoid doing activities that your body is not yet ready for.
To learn more about how to speed up wrist surgery recovery, download our free Guide to Speeding Up Your Break or Fracture Recovery.