The surgeon may also insert a surgical pin to connect and hold the metacarpal bones of the thumb and index finger. The pin protects the reconstructed joint and is usually removed three weeks after the surgery.
AFTER SURGERYWhat happens after surgery?
After surgery, your thumb will be bandaged with a well-padded dressing and a splint for support. The splint will keep the thumb in a natural position during healing. Your surgeon will want to check your hand within five to seven days. Stitches will be removed after 10 to 14 days, though most of your stitches will be absorbed into your body. If a surgical pin was used, it will be removed three weeks after surgery. You may have some discomfort after exicision arthroplasty. You will be given pain medicine to control the discomfort.
You should keep your hand elevated above the level of your heart for several days to avoid swelling and throbbing. Keep it propped up on a stack of pillows when sleeping or sitting up.
REHABILITATIONWhat should I expect during my recovery period?
After surgery, you'll wear a thumb brace for up to six weeks to give the repair time to heal. Then a physical or occupational therapist will probably direct your recovery program. You will likely need to attend therapy sessions for one to two months, and you should expect full recovery to take up to four months.
The first few therapy treatments will focus on controlling the pain and swelling from surgery. Heat treatments may be used. Your therapist may also use gentle massage and other hands-on treatments to ease muscle spasm and pain.
Then you'll begin gentle range-of-motion exercise. Strengthening exercises are used to give added stability around the thumb joint. You'll learn ways to grip and support items in order to do your tasks safely and with the least amount of stress on your thumb joint. As with any surgery, you need to avoid doing too much, too quickly.
Some of the exercises you'll do are designed get your hand and thumb working in ways that are similar to your work tasks and daily activities. Your therapist will help you find ways to do your tasks that don't put too much stress on your thumb joint. Before your therapy sessions end, your therapist will teach you a number of ways to avoid future problems.
Your therapist's goal is to help you keep your pain under control, improve your strength and range of motion, and regain your fine motor abilities with your hand and thumb. When you are well under way, regular visits to the therapist's office will end. Your therapist will continue to be a resource, but you will be in charge of doing your exercises as part of an ongoing home program.