SURGICAL FAQ

Post-Surgical Followup & Appointment Scheduling

Following surgery, you will be seen at your designated clinic location.

 

Please call or email to schedule your appointment, typically plan for 10 days after surgery, unless otherwise specified at the time of surgery. Please let us know of your surgery date at time of scheduling.

Surgical Dressing Care

The dressings should be snug but if really uncomfortable, we recommend removing the ACE wrap and reapplying looser. Don’t be alarmed if you see swelling in the hand/fingers or extremity. This is normal after surgery when there is a dressing placed with an ACE compression wrap.

Return to Work

Our goal is for you to return to work as soon as possible; however, the return date will be based on your occupation.

 

Most carpal tunnel release patients may return to work quickly even if your occupation requires significant typing. However, with knee surgery if your occupation requires long periods of standing, you may need to postpone your return date 4-6 weeks.

 

Often times, you may return to work with limitations. If a physician’s note is required for your employer, we will glady provide the documentation.

 

PLEASE REMEMBER: Absolutely, no driving while on narcotics.

Sling Management

You may remove your sling to re-adjust the straps. Become familiar with how the sling works. Please remove the sling for showers and move the elbow to prevent stiffness. Additionally, it is recommended to take breaks from the sling when you are stationary.

 

If you need a neck pad for the neck strap, an automotive seatbelt pad, is an excellent solution.

Post-Surgical Rotator Cuff Restrictions

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Post-Surgical Activities

Simply put, “If it hurts don’t do it.” It is okay to start moving and using the surgical extremity. If you have a splint or cast, the splint or cast will limit the motion necessary to protect the bone or joints. Start off slowly and listen to your body. Again, motion is good and starting to move those sore joints will help to recover faster.

 

Patients that have had knee surgery including most lower extremity surgeries may start weightbearing unless stated otherwise after surgery. If unable to fully weight weight bear then using crutches, walkers, canes, and/or wheelchairs are recommended.

 

Regarding work activities, the above still holds true, “If it hurts don’t do it.” For example, if you had surgery on your hand and typing feels okay, then proceed.

Suture Removal

If the suture is black it is nylon material and this suture needs to be removed in the office. A white stitch is sometimes used which will dissolve. Many times, especially for carpal tunnel releases we use a glue to close the wound. That glue eventually degrades. Stitches are usually taken out between 10 days to two weeks after surgery.

Care for Infection

It is usually rare to see post-operative infections. However, signs of infection are:

  • Increasing pain
  • Increasing redness
  • Drainage at the wound site which worsens
  • Swelling increases

Normal surgical wounds have a component of the above due to the normal healing response; however, an infection really demonstrates a dramatic increase in the signs listed above. If it really hurts, please call us immediately and/or send us a picture from your phone if worried.

Pain Treatment

This is the number one question patients have after surgery and can be difficult. The following are techniques we use frequently to help control the post-operative pain experience. Try some of the tips; if they are not helpful, please call us.

 

Try common over the counter pain medications. To best manage pain, we often recommend taking 800 mg of Motrin (Ibuprofen) and add a Tylenol Extra Strength including the narcotics prescribed after surgery. Motrin (Ibuprofen) is relatively safe and is prescribed at 800mg three times a day. Motrin usually comes in 200 mg tablets over-the-counter. Tylenol (Acetaminophen) can also help and can be combined with Motrin since it is a different type of drug. You should not take more than 4,000 mg of Tylenol within a 24-hour period. Remember that the narcotics we have prescribed usually have Tylenol, so take that into account when totalling Tylenol mgs.

 

Utilizing old-fashioned remedies Heat/Ice. Ice may decrease swelling, pain and inflammation. Though not mandatory, try it, you might find it helpful. To not frostbite the skin, please put a towel between ice and skin. If that isn’t working you may try heat. People always ask which is better heat or ice? It’s different for everyone. When cold out try heat, if hot out try ice. There is not enough science to ideally answer the question. A nice warm shower sometimes goes a long way.

 

Mind tricks to distract pain. Watch TV, movies, online videos. Anything to distract and preoccupy yourself with something else.

 

Elevation may help decrease swelling. No need to take this to the extreme. It sometimes is more uncomfortable trying to keep your hand raised. Usually we tell patients to elevate the extremity but in a comfortable position. Comfortable position is priority.

Splint Removal

If you wake up after surgery and notice a hard splint on the extremity we usually recommend you keep it on. Keep it dry and clean.

Dressing Removal

There is no set rule, but we usually ask patients to remove their dressing in two days. Washing the wound after removal of the dressings with soap and water is recommended. Reapply a soft comfortable dressing to keep the wound clean. When in doubt, wash the wound.

Post-Surgical Elevation

Elevation may be helpful with swelling but frankly the extremity is going to swell no matter what position it is placed. Following surgery, your body simply swells. Try to elevate above heart level, but if it is uncomfortable place the extremity in the position that is least painful.