The human wrist is complex, with several different bones and ligaments that can be easily injured. However, it can be tough to tell when wrist surgery may be your best option or if you can treat an injury through more conventional means. Here are some ways to tell that surgery may be needed, as well as recovery tips after a procedure.
When Wrist Surgery Is an Option
While some people will need wrist surgery after a severe sprain, it is more often recommended after a fracture has occurred. If you have hurt your wrist, the following signs indicate you may need a surgical procedure:
- A deformity of some kind that causes the wrist to be bent or crooked
- Severe pain
If your fingers turn pale, you are in a great deal of pain or you are experiencing numbness in your arm, hand or wrist, get to a doctor as soon as you can. He or she will perform a thorough examination to determine the extent of the injury, such as x-rays and other tests. You may undergo several x-rays, because it can be very hard to see a fracture.
There are other reasons that people undergo wrist surgery. For example, they may be in great pain due to arthritis and need relief. Or they could have loose bones or cartilage that need to be removed, or a buildup of scar tissue that is causing discomfort and limiting movement.
There are many instances where a doctor will first recommend more conservative treatment options for a wrist injury. These may include rest, over-the-counter medications or physical therapy. However, wrist surgery could be your best course of action if these treatments are ineffective.
Recovering From Wrist Surgery
If you have wrist surgery, there are a few things you will be able to do to help speed your recovery. The most important will be to keep your hand elevated as much as possible in order to reduce swelling. Your hand will need to be above your heart so fluid will not be able to accumulate and slow down the healing process. When you’re sitting down, use some pillows to support your arm. Do the same thing while you’re sleeping. Your doctor may recommend that you use a sling when you are away from home, but you should not over-rely on a sling because that could eventually lead to stiffness in the shoulder and elbow.
Your doctor may also recommend that you use ice throughout the day to reduce inflammation in the area. Cold gel packs or ice should be applied three to five times a day for about 10 minutes.
Another way to recover faster will be to adhere to your physical therapy program. The more diligent you are, the faster you can get back to normal. Once your doctor has determined that your wrist is secure, you will then work on rehab to restore your wrist to its full functionality and strength. Follow your doctor’s recommendations to the letter and don’t try to rush it.