The care of the hand in the post-operative period is very important in helping to ensure a good result. Initially the aims are comfort and elevation. These are met by keeping the hand up (elevated) especially in the first few days and by use of a long acting local anaesthetic (Bupivicaine). The local anaesthetic lasts at least 12 hours and sometimes 48 hours. Patients should start taking painkillers before the pain starts . on return home and for at least 24 hours from there. This way most of our patients report little or any pain.
The patient is reviewed in clinic after about 1 week following the operation. Typically dissolvable stitches are used so they should not require to be removed. A splint may be provided by the physiotherapists particularly following joint replacement. Careful follow up is required to ensure a successful result with good relief of pain and a good range of movement.
The hand can be used for normal activity after the first few days out of the splint. Most of the movement gained following surgery occurs in the first 6 weeks and this time must be used productively to ensure a good result. The key is regular long gentle stretches both into straightening and into bending. Ideally these should be performed for 5 mins in each direction (feeling the stretch but without pain) once an hour. In practical terms most people mange 5-6 times a day. Elevation and icing the elbow also help reduce swelling and thus pain and improve movement.
Most patients can drive after a 2-3 weeks. Most patients return to work in 5-6 weeks, but this varies with occupation; heavy manual work usually takes about 3 months if ever. The wound should be massaged by the patient 3 times a day with a bland soft cream for 3 months once the wound is well healed (typically after 2 weeks). This reduces the scar sensitivity which can be a nuisance. If this is marked a Physio may be organised to help reduce the scar tenderness but this is rarely required. Patients should avoid pressing heavy use of the hand for a good 3 months from surgery.
I had three injections all of which worked for a few days to two weeks then stopped. The excruciating pain returned and only Vicoden 5 mg 3-4 times a day controlled the pain. Vicoden at that dose is the lowest dose prescribed. it worked perfectly for several years and doctors refused to prescribed opioids for fear of losing their license. My sister recently died of throat cancer and she complained constantly of pain. She died with unrelieved pain. As a cancer patient she was prescribed Morphine 2 mg. every 6 hours. That is beyond ridiculous but keeps our doctor’s license safe. Our doctors are violating their Hippocratic oath – Do No Harm. They had added a caveat “except when the government is breathing down your neck. Then the patient be damned. I am glad this helped you Randy. I don’t know your clinical status but I am sure it differs from mine. Do you have severe and crippling arthritis?