June 3, 2021 at 8:19 pm · drsahai · 0 comments
Do you need hand surgery? You probably have a lot of questions, if you do. And, you are not alone. Here are the most frequently asked questions about hand surgery.
- Will I need medical clearance?
When visiting a specialist, medical clearance is typically needed. However, depending on the age, medical history, and need for anesthesia, the specifics would differ. Certain tests such as an EKG or X-ray may be required. You also need to discuss your medications with your doctor beforehand. Blood-thinning drugs can affect the surgery. So, you may have to stop taking those.
- What type of anesthesia will I get?
The anesthesia used depends on the type of surgery. The complexity and duration of the procedure are the number one consideration. Your doctor also evaluates your overall health. Anesthesia options include:
- Local anesthesia: You remain awake, but the affected area is numb. Therefore, you will not feel a thing.
- Local and sedation: You are asleep and breathing on your own. However, you do not feel pain.
- General anesthesia: You are asleep during the procedure while an anesthesiologist monitors you. Therefore, you may have a tube to help you breathe. However, this method is for complex surgery.
- Regional blocks: The surgeon or anesthesiologist will administer this. Here, only the surgical site is numb. Unlike local anesthesia, the entire arm or hand is numb. Long-lasting numbness can occur with this method
- Will I need therapy after the surgery?
Your surgeon will determine if physical therapy is necessary after the surgery. However, a certified hand therapist will guide you through the exercises. They have training and understanding of hand anatomy. They also know how to maximize recovery of hand function. What matters most with therapy is timing. If done too soon, therapy can interfere with healing. If delayed, the hand can become too stiff. However, there is a specific healing window. And, a hand therapist will know this.
- Is my activity limited after hand surgery?
You will not be able to drive after the surgery. You must wait for the anesthesia to wear off. Or, if taking any narcotics, do not drive. In addition, some people have a cast or splint that hinders movement. Healing time is typically 1 to 2 weeks. So, plan to reduce movement during the healing time. Walking is encouraged, though, to minimize blood clot risk. Your surgeon will tell you when it’s time to return to work. And they will guide your safe return to daily activities.
- Is there pain after the surgery?
Swelling is the primary cause of any pain. However, it will gradually lessen over a few days. Although, swelling and pain can last up to a few weeks. But, the first three days after the procedure is when it is worst. You can minimize pain and swelling by keeping the hand elevated. Use towels or pillows to keep it above heart level. Your surgeon will advise you about moving your arm and hand. Follow all instructions closely to help to heal and reduce pain.
- Will I have a splint?
Splints or casts help to immobilize the hand. Therefore, minimizing pain. Your surgeon will advise on how to care for the splint/cast. There will be instructions for showering. And how to keep the cast/splint clean and dry. If you have dressed, you will have to change this. Blood is not uncommon in the first days of healing. If bandages become saturated, contact your doctor. If you develop a fever, swelling, or intense pain, contact your doctor.