You use your hands for almost every task, every day. And when they hurt or they don’t work like they used to, you notice very quickly.
Arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, Dupuytren’s contracture, and many different injuries can severely affect your hands and your quality of life. Many people avoid considering hand surgery because they’re worried about increased pain and long recovery times — but the truth is that it could make a huge difference for your health.
Walter D. Gracia, MD, PA has nearly 20 years of experience in hand surgery. He has privileges at top hospitals and surgery centers in Fort Worth, Texas. If you’re living with significant pain or impaired hand function, hand surgery could be the first step to recovery.
How to prepare for hand surgery
Dr. Gracia specializes in delicate hand surgeries, from trauma response to carpal tunnel release. All hand surgeries require extreme precision and skill, but some procedures are more complex than others. The type of surgery you need affects how you’ll prepare and what your recovery will be like.
Depending on the severity of your hand condition, you may need a series of surgical procedures. Dr. Gracia outlines your surgical plan with you at the beginning, so you can arrange your schedule accordingly.
Take some time before surgery to make your home more comfortable and make recovery a little easier. Do grocery shopping and food preparation ahead of time. Stock up on disposable plates and utensils so you don’t have to worry about washing dishes.
Think about where you’ll spend most of your time and choose supportive chairs with sturdy armrests so you can elevate your hand. Make sure you have plenty of comfortable clothing with wide armholes and loose sleeves.
Consider asking a family member or friend to stay with you for a while after hand surgery. They can help you with daily tasks, meal preparation, and taking care of pets or children.
The stages of healing from hand surgery
The healing process after hand surgery depends on the type of surgery you had and the extent of your hand condition. We take a personalized approach to care, adjusting your recovery plan to meet your unique needs. Healing after hand surgery generally includes these stages:
You may come out of surgery with your hand immobilized in a cast, splint, or brace. Immobilization supports healing in the early stages of recovery because it keeps your fingers, hand, and wrist secure.
Dr. Gracia tells you how long your hand needs to stay immobilized. Once your initial bandages are removed, you may continue wearing a supportive splint or brace at night for several months after surgery.
Pain after hand surgery ranges from mild to severe. We may administer a local anesthetic after surgery to help reduce post-surgical pain, and we prescribe pain medication for the first few days after your procedure.
We continue monitoring your pain level. Pain should improve within a few days after surgery, and we might recommend non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAIDs). Elevating your hand on a pillow can also help reduce pain and inflammation.
Our team gives you care instructions for your bandages. You should avoid getting your cast or bandages wet, and you shouldn’t remove any bandages until you’re told it’s okay.
Rehabilitation is an important part of most hand surgery recovery plans. Surgery can repair physical damage to bones, tendons, and nerves, but rehabilitation is what helps restore strength and flexibility.
You may participate in physical therapy, occupational therapy, or a combination of the two. Some common elements of hand rehabilitation include strengthening exercises, massage, and nerve stimulation.
Returning to your daily routine
Dr. Gracia and our team will work with you throughout the healing process. As your hand gets stronger, we help you find ways to return to your usual activities safely.
Every patient is different. But many people find that after recovering from hand surgery, they’re able to perform many routine tasks easier and with less pain than before surgery.
The thought of recovering from hand surgery may seem overwhelming, but we’re here to guide you through it. Find out if you’re a candidate for hand surgery with a consultation. Call our Fort Worth, Texas office or request an appointment online.