From young to old, anyone can hurt their wrists. Accident-induced fractures, arthritis, muscle or tendon weakness, ball and socket wear, etc. are the most common reasons for wrist surgeries. Wrist fusion and wrist replacements are common wrist surgeries performed on patients. In both cases, post-operative care includes 6-8 weeks of cast and physiotherapy.
In some cases, there are chances that the operated wrist can look dislocated (very minimal dislodgement) and the patient is left with a scar and some slight swelling. But these physical changes can be managed well if one takes care of the healing wrist in the following ways (frequently known as RICE method):
1. Rest Adequately
After the surgery, the healing arm is placed in a sling and the patient can experience mild difficulty due to immobility. But resting the arm is very important as it heals the damaged cells faster.
The operated wrist portion should be sponged and the dressing should be kept away from water to avoid infection.
2. Ice Packs
Ice based cold packs help to heal the swelling induced due to surgery. One has to follow the doctor’s instructions and use ice packs when needed.
3. Compression Dressing
Compression dressing materials like bands, gloves are available in the market that will keep the wrist secure while keeping the wrist in an elevated position. One should take doctors and nurses to help to secure this compression dressing on the wrist as if worn too tight, it can stop blood flow.
4. Elevated Positions are Better
It is suggested as a part of post-operative care that the wrist needs to be kept little elevated above one’s heart to control swelling. The slings are mostly used for this purpose. It is also mandatory that one should not keep their wrist on the side and allow it to dangle as it will cause prolonged swelling and retention of fluids. The therapist’s advice to keep the wrist resting on pillows the whole day if possible for the first week.
In the case of fractures, post-operative care depends on the type of surgery performed on the patient.
- If it is an internal fixation, the screw or plate is inserted into the bone and the incision is closed with sutures. In this case, the wound has to be protected from infection and the wrist has to be kept in an elevated position to avoid swelling.
- In percutaneous fixation, when any of the small bone in and around the wrist is fractured, the wrist is placed in position using a minimal number of pins and a cast is used to keep the wrist in position. The post-operative care includes regular exercises and elevation of the wrist.
- The external fixation of the wrist includes placement of an external frame to fix the bone and in this case, one has to make sure they do not contract any infection that might give rise to complications.
It generally takes 6-8 weeks for a complete recovery for wrist surgery. One has to continue physiotherapy exercises for at least 6 months to 1 year for the wrist to gain momentum and function independently like before.