The following are basic postoperative instructions that apply to most procedures. Be sure to refer to any other instructions that you have been given that might be specific for your surgery.
1.Elevate your operative hand/wrist/elbow above the level of your heart as much as possible to reduce swelling. A sling does not get your arm high enough. A useful trick is that if you are sitting on a couch, have your operative arm “raised in the air” over the armrest with pillows. If you are lying down, rest your arm on a pillow on your chest.
2.If your fingers are free, make a fist and extend digits 10 times every hour while you are awake. Fingers tend to get very swollen and stiff after upper extremity (arm/hand) surgery; keep them moving to get the swelling down and maintain your motion.
3.Do not carry anything heavier than a fork or knife in your operative hand until we talk about it in the office.
4.Dressing: you will be given specific instructions as to whether to remove your dressing. If you have a plaster splint or fiberglass cast, leave that until I see you in the office. If you have only a soft dressing (after carpal tunnel release or trigger finger release, for example), you may remove your dressing after four days and shower with antimicrobial soap and water. Pat your wound dry and apply a dry sterile dressing. I recommend reapplying a wrist cock-up splint to your wrist after you remove your carpal tunnel dressing; life will be much more comfortable and it will keep your incision (and everything under it) better protected. Do not apply any creams, oils, or ointments to the incision site. Please do not immerse or soak your incision (or pins) in a hot tub, pool, dishwater, or any other standing water.
6.If you had surgery, you likely were given a prescription for pain medicine. Please take your medicine as directed if you need it. This medicine can make you dizzy, nauseated, or sleepy, and you should NOT be driving or performing other potentially dangerous activities while taking narcotics. If you have trouble with the medication, please call the office and will we try to find an alternative. Keep in mind that pharmacies will not fill a prescription for most narcotics over the phone or by fax, so unfortunately, you might need someone to pick up the paper prescription for you if we change your medication.
7.If you have a pain pump/catheter from the anesthesia service, please refer to their instructions regarding care of that device. They have a physician on call at all times to answer questions or assess or refill the medicine in your catheter in the hospital if you are having trouble. You can reach the anesthesiologist by calling (248) 898-5000. If you have questions Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m., ask to be connected to Suite 100; on weekends and after hours, ask to speak with the anesthesiologist on call.
8.If you have any signs of infection (drainage, increased pain, redness) or any other questions or concerns, please call the office.