Recovery after Wrist Arthroscopy Surgery

wrist arthritis surgery recovery

How long does it take to recover from a wrist surgery?

How should you sleep after wrist surgery?

How long can I expect to be off work after wrist surgery?


After the operation

After the operation, you'll need to stay in hospital for a few days. You’ll need to keep your wrist protected for six to eight weeks in a lightweight cast, but your fingers will be free for light activities such as eating or writing. You may find some tasks are difficult at first but your occupational therapist will help you overcome these problems.

How long does it take to recover from a wrist surgery?

Here are some things to keep in mind during recovery from a broken wrist: It might take eight weeks or longer for your wrist to heal. More severe breaks may not fully mend for six months. You and your doctor will decide when you are fully recovered.


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Over time, the ends of your joint will grow together to become one solid piece. You won’t be able to move it anymore.

Until that happens, you’ll need to protect the area. You’ll probably need to wear a cast or brace. And, you’ll need to keep all weight off the joint. This could mean you’ll use crutches, a walker, or a wheelchair to get around.

Healing can take up to 12 weeks, so you’ll want some help getting through your daily life. You may need to ask a family member or friend to assist with household tasks.

After this type of surgery, you can expect to lose some of your range of motion and feel stiff in your joint. Physical therapy can help keep your other joints in good working shape.

This will depend on the type of operation and your general health. Ask your surgeon what you should expect after the operation. Planning ahead can make it easier to manage when you return home.

Different surgeons have different ideas about the treatment required after an operation. This is affected by the type of operation and your health. You may need to wear splints to protect the healing tissues and bone, but you should discuss with your surgeon what to expect after the operation. Your nurse, occupational therapist, physiotherapist or hand therapist will be able to offer support.

After you’ve been discharged from hospital an appointment will be made for you to come in as an outpatient to check your progress. Sometimes your GP will help with this aftercare. A district nurse or practice nurse may be asked to remove stitches and change dressings.

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Wrist arthroscopy aftercare

  • Rest when you feel tired. Getting enough sleep will help you recover. Use pillows to raise your wrist and arm above the level of your heart. Try to walk each day. Start by walking a little more than you did the day before. Bit by bit, increase the amount you walk. Walking boosts blood flow and helps prevent pneumonia and constipation.
  • You may have a sling. Follow your doctor's instructions on how to use it.
  • Avoid lifting anything that would make you strain. This may include a child, heavy grocery bags and milk containers, a heavy briefcase or backpack, cat litter or dog food bags, or a vacuum cleaner.
  • Do not use your arm for repeated movements. These include painting, vacuuming, or using a computer.
  • Your doctor will tell you how often and how much you can move your wrist and arm.
  • If you have a desk job, you will probably be able to return to work or your normal routine in a few days to a few weeks. If you have to lift heavier objects at work, it may take months before you return to work.
  • 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 wrist until your doctor says it is okay.
  • Ask your doctor when you can drive again.


  • You can eat your normal diet. If your stomach is upset, try bland, low-fat foods like plain rice, broiled chicken, toast, and yogurt.
  • Drink plenty of fluids, unless your doctor tells you not to.
  • You may notice that your bowel movements are not regular right after your surgery. This is common. Try to avoid constipation and straining with bowel movements. You may want to take a fibre supplement every day. If you have not had a bowel movement after a couple of days, ask your doctor about taking a mild laxative.


  • Your doctor will tell you if and when you can restart your medicines. He or she will also give you instructions about taking any new medicines.
  • If you take aspirin or some other blood thinner, ask your doctor if and when to start taking it again. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
  • Take pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • If you think your pain medicine is making you sick to your stomach:
    • Take your medicine after meals (unless your doctor has told you not to).
    • Ask your doctor for a different pain medicine.
  • If your doctor prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.

Incision care

  • If you have a dressing over your cuts (incisions), keep it clean and dry. You may remove it 48 to 72 hours after the surgery.
  • If your incisions are open to the air, keep the area clean and dry.
  • If you have strips of tape on the incisions, leave the tape on for a week or until it falls off.


  • The day after surgery, you can lift your shoulder up and down to keep it loose.
  • Bend and straighten your elbow slowly several times throughout the day.
  • Move your fingers as much as your bandages will allow.
  • Depending on why you had the surgery, you may have to do wrist and arm exercises. Your doctor or your physiotherapist or occupational therapist will give you exercises as part of a rehabilitation program.
  • Stop any activity that causes sharp pain. Talk to your doctor or your physiotherapist or occupational therapist about what sports or other exercise you can do.

Ice and elevation

  • To reduce swelling and pain, put ice or a cold pack on your wrist for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Do this every 1 to 2 hours. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin.

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How should you sleep after wrist surgery?

 Elevate your arm above your heart. The best way to do this comfortably is to lie flat on your back with your hand resting on a few pillows. Elevate your hand for at least three days after surgery.

How long can I expect to be off work after wrist surgery?      

You will probably spend one to two nights in hospital, and your arm will be in a splint for up to six weeks. You will need at least two weeks off work after surgery. Your return to work depends on your profession and the availability of light duty. Generally, light office work, typing, writing, and using a computer are acceptable even 2 to 3 weeks after surgery. No heavy lifting or forceful gripping with the operative hand is permitted until at least 6 weeks after surgery.

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10 common questions about wrist arthritis surgery recovery

1How long does it take to recover from a wrist surgery?
Here are some things to keep in mind during recovery from a broken wrist: It might take eight weeks or longer for your wrist to heal. More severe breaks may not fully mend for six months. You and your doctor will decide when you are fully recovered.
2Can you have surgery to remove arthritis?
Surgical options for inflammatory arthritis include synovectomy, arthroplasty, and arthrodesis. ... With a synovectomy, the orthopedic surgeon removes most of the synovium, and the process is arrested. Results can be dramatic, but over a period of several years, the tissue grows back and the patient's symptoms may return.
3What can I expect after arthroscopic wrist surgery?
After wrist arthroscopy, your physician will likely use a protective bandage, sling or splint to wrap your wrist. Your physician may also prescribe the RICE regimen for the first two or three days following surgery: rest, ice, compression, and elevation (keeping the wrist above heart level to reduce swelling and pain).
4Do you need a cast after wrist surgery?
After surgery, a half cast is applied is typically removed around three weeks after surgery. After this, a removable wrist splint is often worn. The plates and screws do not need to be removed unless they are causing pain or other problems after the break has healed.
5Do metal plates and screws need to be removed?
Orthopaedic hardware (plates, screws, nails and other pieces of metal or implants) can be removed because the patient finds the hardware painful or irritating. ... In these cases, the hardware may not be entirely removed or larger incisions will be made. After the hardware is removed, there is often a hole in the bone
6Does surgery help osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis Surgery: The Next Stage If you have severe joint damage, severe pain, or very limited motion, you may need surgery for your osteoarthritis. These procedures can relieve pain and allow for better mobility. ... It is used when joints are severely damaged and causing significant pain
7Can surgery fix knee arthritis?
Patients with moderate to severe knee arthritis who have exhausted non-surgical treatment options might consider replacing the entire knee joint. ... Total knee replacement surgery provides most patients with pain relief and improved knee joint function
8Can an xray show arthritis in the wrist?
X-rays provide detailed images of dense structures, such as bone. X-rays of your wrist will help your doctor learn more about the exact location and severity of your arthritis. They can also help your doctor distinguish between various types of arthritis. Blood tests.
9What is the best treatment for wrist pain?
They include: Home treatment - often simply resting the wrist as much as possible to allow it time to heal is effective. Pain medication and ice may also be recommended to reduce inflammation and pain. Splints - in some cases, wearing a wrist splint can help
10How long can I expect to be off work after wrist surgery?
Wrist Surgery Recovery after a Fracture In general, you can expect a healing period of at least six weeks after a bone fracture

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