Our hands keep us productive throughout the day. The complex structures that make up our nimble fingers allow us to lift objects and perform everyday activities without a second thought. However, the constant stress that we may be unknowingly putting on our hands puts them at risk for overuse injuries and diseases
A hand injury is the result of damage to the bones, joints, and connective structures of the hand. If conservative treatments like medication, splinting, and physical therapy are not enough to relieve your pain, then surgery may be considered.
Recovery from Carpal Tunnel Release
Carpal tunnel syndrome and nerve injuries are common hand and wrist conditions that require surgical intervention. Depending on your condition, your doctor may choose between open surgery and minimally invasive surgery. The latter involves the use of smaller incisions, thereby reducing post-operative pain and cutting down healing time.
In carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), the median nerve gets compressed. To treat this condition surgically, your surgeon cuts the fibrous band on the inside of the wrist (transverse carpal ligament) to ease the pressure off the median nerve.
After surgery, your doctor will bandage your wrist or put it in a splint. It’s best to keep the injured part rested for two to three days. Pain from the surgery may occur, and your doctor can recommend pain medication to address this. You can also elevate your hand while sleeping to avoid swelling. As a general rule, refrain from heavy lifting or extreme wrist movements for three weeks to speed up the healing process.
Keep the dressings clean and do not change or remove them unless your doctor instructs you to do so. Cover it with a plastic bag if you need to bathe; however, immediately contact your doctor in case it gets wet.
It’s equally important to keep your hand moving using slow and controlled motions to prevent stiffness and reduce pain. Your physical therapist will teach you exercises you can perform for your rehabilitation after your splint is removed. Your entire recovery period may take up to a few months during which you may need to take time off work to heal, especially if it involves extensive use of your hands.
Consult with your doctor if you experience any of the following:
- Persistent or increased pain
- Redness or swelling
Recovery from Hand Nerve Injury Repair
A hand nerve injury can affect the connection between your brain and hand muscles. Fourth- and fifth degree injuries require surgical intervention. The specific procedure will depend on your needs. To treat a nerve injury, your surgeon may cut an entire section of the affected nerve and connect healthy nerve ends (nerve repair) or take a healthy piece of nerve from another part of your body (nerve graft).
After surgery, you should keep your hand immobilized for 7 to 10 days (nerve graft) or up to 3 weeks (nerve repair). Your doctor may recommend pain medication for postsurgical discomfort. To alleviate swelling, you should keep the affected hand elevated above your heart. Icing the surgical site is also helpful. Likewise, you need to keep your dressings dry and clean. Refrain from removing them unless otherwise instructed by your doctor.
Physical therapy is an essential part of your recovery. Your doctor will work closely with a physical therapist to craft a personalized exercise plan that features specific movements and exercises that slowly increase in intensity.
The initial phase will feature range of motion and strengthening exercises designed to restore function and increase muscle strength. Generally, reinnervated muscles are weaker and tire out more quickly than uninjured muscles. You will participate in short exercise sessions with midrange isometric contractions that focus on the affected hand muscles.
In the latter parts of your rehabilitation program, these exercises will continue along with sensorimotor reeducation, which aims to restore feeling and sensation. For a motor nerve injury, your doctor might recommend electrical stimulation to limit muscle degeneration and strengthen muscle fiber.
The goal of rehabilitation after a nerve injury is to facilitate normal movement patterns step-by-step to help you get back to life and work. Remember to always follow the instructions from your providers and avoid rushing through your recovery program.
Hand and Wrist Care in Central Maryland
To achieve optimal outcome after hand surgery, follow your doctor’s instructions to the letter and schedule a consultation whenever you feel persistent pain or numbness.
To receive quality care from treatment to recovery and rehabilitation, visit Orthopaedic Associates of Central Maryland. Our board-certified orthopedic surgeons treat a wide range of hand and wrist conditions. After your surgery, our physical therapists will guide you through recovery until you regain full functionality and feeling in your hand.
If you have any questions or would like to schedule a consultation, call us today at (410) 644-1880 or (855) 4MD-BONE. You can also fill out our online appointment request form. We look forward to getting your hand back in perfect condition!