How long does it take to recover from arthroscopic elbow surgery?

Elbow Replacement Surgery Recovery Time

How long before I can drive after elbow surgery?

Can you have your elbow replaced?

How should I sleep after elbow surgery?

What can you do after elbow surgery?

 

Elbow replacement surgery recovery time

The operations usually take around an hour and a half. Giving the anaesthetic takes about half an hour, and recovery before going back to the ward takes another half an hour to an hour.

You'll be taken to a recovery room or high-care unit until you're fully awake and the doctors feel that your general condition is stable. Then you'll be taken back to the ward.

Sometimes the local anaesthetic from the operation wears off in the middle of the night. This can cause disturbed sleep and tiredness. You'll probably be given painkillers before you go to sleep to make sure you'll be more comfortable. The drip and any drains are usually removed within 24 hours. After that you'll be able to start gently moving your arm again.

You'll usually be in hospital for 2–3 nights after your surgery. During this time medical, nursing, physiotherapy and occupational therapy staff will be involved in your care. You'll be given drugs after the operation to keep your arm as free from pain as possible. These may include:

  • local anaesthetic
  • 'patient-controlled analgesia' (PCA) a system where you can control your own supply of painkiller going into a vein by pressing a button
  • painkilling injections or tablets.

 

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In the Hospital

While in the hospital, you should have received pain medicine. You also learned how to manage swelling around your new joint.

Your surgeon or physical therapist may have taught you exercises to do at home.

At Home

Your elbow area may feel warm and tender for 2 to 4 weeks after surgery. The swelling should go down during this time.

For the first week after surgery, you may have a soft splint on your arm to hold your elbow in place. After the incision has healed, you may need to use a harder splint or brace that has a hinge.

Arrange for someone to help with chores such as shopping, bathing, making meals, and housework for up to 6 weeks. You may want to make some changes around your home so it is easier for you to take care of yourself.

You will need to wait 4 to 6 weeks before you can drive. Your surgeon or physical therapist will tell you when it is OK.

You may be able to start using your elbow as soon as 12 weeks after surgery. Full recovery can take up to a year.

Physiotherapy and occupational therapy

Your physiotherapist will see you in hospital after the operation to help get you moving and advise you on exercises to strengthen your muscles. Either your physiotherapist or occupational therapist will tell you the dos and don'ts after your surgery. It's very important to follow this advice.

Because there are several different types of shoulder and elbow surgery, there's no single aftercare programme. Your post-op therapy will differ depending on the procedure you've had and also between different units and surgeons, so we can't recommend specific exercise plans. We suggest that you discuss with your surgeon what to expect after the operation.

How long does it take to recover from arthroscopic elbow surgery?

You may need about 6 to 8 weeks to recover. You may have to limit your activity until your elbow strength and movement return to normal. You may also be in a physical rehabilitation (rehab) program.

How long before I can drive after elbow surgery?

Driving is not allowed nor advisable at least until a partial recovery is achieved. On average most people return to driving around 4 weeks following surgery. If a ligament or tendon has been repaired, you need to wait until the tendon/ ligament has healed – normally around 8-10 weeks with a graduated increase in activity. Returning to driving early after tendon surgery may compromise your outcome.

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Can you have your elbow replaced?

If a disease such as rheumatoid arthritis or an injury has harmed your elbow, your doctor may recommend surgery to replace the joint, so you have less pain and can move better. During elbow replacement, a surgeon replaces your elbow with an artificial joint made from two implants that attach to the bones in your arm. Other possible signs such as: aching in the joint, followed by periods of relative relief; pain after extensive use; reduced elbow motion; joint stiffness after periods of inactivity or rest; and/or pain that seems to increase in humid weather may also lead you and your doctor to consider an elbow replacement surgery.

Read more about: Hip Replacement Surgery Recovery

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How should I sleep after elbow surgery?

Do not sleep on your surgical side until your physician has said it's okay to do so. For better comfort during sleep, after having elbow surgery, it is recommended sleeping in a slightly upright position, for example, in a reclining chair with a pillow under the forearm. Sleeping in an easy chair or recliner may be most comfortable for the first few days after surgery. You may sleep without the sling.

What can you do after elbow surgery?

The day after surgery, you can lift your shoulder up and down to keep it loose. Move your fingers and wrist as much as your bandages will allow. The amount of weight you can lift using your surgery arm will be limited. Your doctor may recommend that you don't lift anything heavier than a cup of coffee for the first four to six weeks. Please consult with your orthopedic surgeon before you begin to lift anything.

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10 common questions about Elbow Replacement Surgery Recovery Time

1Can you lift weights after elbow replacement?
Even after you have fully recovered from your surgery, you will still have some restrictions. Normal daily activities for elbow replacement patients do not include contact sports, "jamming" activities such as hammering, heavy or repetitive lifting, or activities that put excessive strain on your elbow.
2How long does pain last after elbow surgery?
In 3 to 6 months, the pain should go away, and you should have good movement in your elbow. You may need to continue strength exercises for as long as 1 year. You will be able to return to daily activities in about 2 to 6 weeks and go back to work in 3 to 12 weeks, depending on your job.
3Is there Elbow Replacement Surgery?
If a disease such as rheumatoid arthritis or an injury has harmed your elbow, your doctor may recommend surgery to replace the joint, so you have less pain and can move better. During elbow replacement, a surgeon replaces your elbow with an artificial joint made from two implants that attach to the bones in your arm.
4Do you need a cast after elbow surgery?
While Your Elbow Is in a Cast or a Sling While your bone heals, your arm will be in a cast or a sling to keep it still and allow healing. This is also the case if you have had surgery. During the healing process, it is important to prevent as much stiffness, weakness, or swelling as possible.
5How long after elbow surgery can I lift weights?
You should start to do strengthening exercises with light weights about 3 weeks after your surgery. A physical therapist can show you the right exercises to improve your elbow strength. You should be able to go back to work 6 to 12 weeks after your surgery.
6What can you do after elbow surgery?
Elevate your hand above the level of your heart, especially 3-5 days after surgery. Below are some photos showing correct ways to elevate your hand. Ice is an excellent anti-inflammatory and helps control pain and swelling. Apply ice to the surgical site as tolerable (unless specified otherwise).
7How should I sleep after elbow surgery?
You will find it more comfortable to wear loose clothing to avoid pressure on the incision. Ask your doctor or other qualified health professional about appropriate wound care. You may want to place a pillow behind your elbow when seated or lying down to keep the surgery area forward to help decrease pain.
8How do you shower after elbow surgery?
You can take a shower 48 to 72 hours after surgery and clean the incisions with regular soap and water. Do not take a bath or soak your elbow until your doctor says it is okay.
9Are elbow replacements successful?
Although elbow joint replacement is much less common than knee or hip replacement, it is just as successful in relieving joint pain and returning people to activities they enjoy.
10Can elbow arthritis be cured?
Nonsurgical Treatment For the early stages of osteoarthritis of the elbow, the most common treatment is nonsurgical. This includes oral medications to reduce or alleviate pain, physical therapy, and activity modification. Corticosteroid injections are sometimes used to treat osteoarthritis symptoms.

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