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How to Recover From Tendon Surgery on the Hand

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How to Recover From Tendon Surgery on the Hand
Doctor examining a woman's hand in a splint Photo Credit Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Lightwavemedia/Getty Images

The most prominent tendons in the hands join muscles extending from the arms to the fingers and thumb, or pollux. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), when tendons in the hand are accidentally cut or tear, it may make bending or straightening the fingers challenging, and surgery is usually required. Once this outpatient surgery is performed, recovery involves following physician guidelines, which typically include resting the hand, wound care, and physical therapy.

Step 1

Keep your incision clean by checking bandages several times a day to make sure they are clean and dry, explains the Baylor College of Medicine. Bandages should be changed as they get soiled, or on the schedule recommended by your physician, to prevent infection and speed the healing process. Use the wound cleaner suggested by your physician to wash the surgical site, cover with sterile gauze, and apply a large bandage to hold the gauze in place.

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Step 2

Limit your use of the affected hand for at least four to eight weeks, to avoid tearing the stitches and reinjuring the tendon. The AAOS suggests wearing a special splint to protect the hand during this time, which your doctor will prescribe.

Step 3

Take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) or prescription pain medication as needed to reduce pain and swelling. Your doctor should discuss pain medication options and protocols with you prior to going home after surgery.

Step 4

Return to light activities of daily living within a few days following surgery, suggests Baylor College of Medicine. You should be able to bath, dress, drive, and return to work quickly, unless your work requires repetitive motion with the injured hand.

Step 5

Visit a physical therapist to begin strengthening the injured hand, explains the AAOS. Injured muscles and tendons get weak quickly, as do the muscles around them. A physical therapist will show you how to do specific exercises to target your weak areas and help you regain full strength. According to "Ramamurti's Orthopaedics in Primary Care," assisted and active range-of-motion of the wrist and finger joints is also recommended following tendon injuries of the hand.

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