Hand therapy

After complex hand and wrist surgery, patients should allow time for rehabilitation and attendance at hand therapy sessions. Postoperative physiotherapy can be as important as surgery itself, so compliance with appointments and the instructions provided is crucial. Hand therapists are likely to remove any Plaster of Paris put on by the surgeon after surgery and create custom-made, lightweight splints which you can easily put on and remove at home during the subsequent few weeks. The aims of therapy are to protect tissues while they are healing, yet mobilise them before stiffness develops; to strengthen your fingers, reduce tissue swelling, manage pain, and look after scars for several weeks.

Please remember that without adequate hand therapy, your long-term outcome can be truly compromised and recovery delayed.

Many hand surgery procedures require the wearing of a splint or cast for a few weeks after operation. This will impact on your work and ability to drive so the timing of the surgery needs to be carefully planned. Sonja will advise in detail on exact protocols well ahead of surgery as these are also highly individual; dependent on your condition, operative findings and your exact job duties.

The table below gives a rough guide to the duration of recovery following some common hand/wrist operations. More detailed information is provided within procedure-specific handouts under the Hand and Wrist section.

Splint duration (weeks) Hand therapy duration (weeks) Driving restriction (weeks) Return to work (weeks) Contact sports (weeks)
Dupuytren’s fasciectomy 4–12 2–4 usually 2 office – 1
manual – 4–6
6
Finger fracture 4 4–6 2 office – 2
manual – 6
8
Tendon surgery 6 6–8 4–6 office – 2
manual – 6–8
12
Joint replacement 6 8 3–4 office – 2
manual – 6–8
12
Finger fusion 6 2 2 office – 2
manual – 6–8
12
Wrist fracture 4–6 6 4 office – 2
manual – 6–8
8
Wrist arthroscopy 1 1–2 1 office – 1
manual – 2–3
3
TFCC repair 6 12 6 office – 2
manual – 6–8
12
Partial Wrist Fusion 4–6 8 4 office – 2
manual – 6–8
12
Proximal Row Carpectomy 3–4 6 4 office – 2
manual – 6–8
12
Total Wrist Fusion 6–6 4 6 office – 2–3
manual – 6–8
12