Top 5 Tips for Recovery from Wrist Surgery

Wrist x-ray

The primary goal of rehabilitation following a wrist fracture is to help you regain functional use of the hand, wrist and upper extremity. Dr. Scott Wolfe, Orthopedic Surgeon, offers this advice for patients to follow after wrist surgery.

1. Elevate your hand to decrease swelling. Elevation is key to reducing swelling. Therefore, it is critical that an elevated position is maintained throughout the day and at night. Patients should NEVER keep their hand down by their side for a prolonged period of time. The hand needs to be above the level of the heart so that gravity can help move fluid back toward the heart. Use 2-3 pillows to support the arm in the lap when seated, and keep it above the heart level on a pillow or two during sleep. Patients may be instructed to use a sling for elevation, particularly when out in public. However, be aware that over-reliance on a sling may lead to unnecessary elbow and shoulder stiffness.

2. Begin mobilizing fingers as soon as possible to avoid stiffness.

3. Ice to reduce inflammation. Icing the wrist can help relieve pain and inflammation. The therapist will provide advice specific to the injury, but general guidelines are that ice or cold gel packs may be used 3-5 times a day for about ten minutes at a time. Cold gel packs can be found at most local drugstores.

4. Attend physical therapy with a Certified Hand Therapist. CHTs are physical or occupational therapists who have a specialized certification, making them the ideal therapist for any type of injury to the hand.

5. Follow your surgeon’s recommendations for full activity. Be patient, you’ll be back to full activity in due time, don’t rush it!

Conclusion: Restoring Strength and Function after a Fracture
After the first six weeks of therapy, once bone healing is determined to be firm and secure, rehabilitation will focus on the full restoration of strength and function. While types of wrist fractures and their surgical treatments vary, the core principles of fracture rehabilitation are consistent. Following these basic guidelines, a therapist will customize each treatment plan according to the patient’s specific needs.

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The information provided in this blog by HSS and our affiliated physicians is for general informational and educational purposes, and should not be considered medical advice for any individual problem you may have. This information is not a substitute for the professional judgment of a qualified health care provider who is familiar with the unique facts about your condition and medical history. You should always consult your health care provider prior to starting any new treatment, or terminating or changing any ongoing treatment. Every post on this blog is the opinion of the author and may not reflect the official position of HSS. Please contact us if we can be helpful in answering any questions or to arrange for a visit or consult.

154 Comments

  1. The information was helpful. Are the any appliances that can be attached to a rollator so that it can be used around a small 254 sq.ft. studio apartment to complete ADLs?

  2. In 2006 I shattered my left wrist, shattered one bone and broke the other. I had surgery with a plate and 8 screws put in and had an open soft cast for only a couple of weeks. I had physical therapy for a couple weeks after that. I had I think 5-6 physical therapy visits. I was self payand couldn’t afford any more but continued with the exercises at home the therapist said that was fine. It has hurt and bothered me on and off for the last 10 years, lately it bothers me daily with sharp shooting pains and a lot of weakness. The dr had told me I probably would not regain full use of it. My question is how do I manage the pain and do I need to have the hardware removed? My current ins won’t cover the surgery for another 10 months.

    1. Hi Renee- My recommendation would be to get new x-rays and consult with a hand surgeon. Best of luck!

  3. I fractured my wrist and was casted for a month but still continued to have pain. After getting an MRI and doing occupational therapy for 8 weeks, I had arthroscopic surgery on my right wrist. They cleaned out fluids and floating bone shavings as well as put some injections in to help with the pain. 3 days after surgery I fell going up the stairs and landed on my elbow. A few weeks later they ran some xrays and found i had fractured my elbow but it had happened a while back right after surgery so they could do nothing for it. After the fall though, I had numbness and tingling all along my arm (They said it was the Ulnar nerve) and into my hand. after running an EMG and NVC they found nothing wrong but put me on neurontin. Along with this they put me back into therapy for 16 weeks. The 16 weeks has since ended but, 6 months after the surgery and the fall, im still having severe pain in my elbow and wrist. Is this normal? I have told the surgeon i feel therapy is not helping and it still hurts but she keeps putting me back in it. Should i try a second opinion at another hospital?

  4. Complications after distal radius fracture??? Is this normal? Suffered fracture to right (dominant) wrist 2/20/16. Fracture apparently intra-articular, but did not require resetting/reduction. Placed in splint for five weeks, according to the Dr. bone healed quickly. Physical therapy was started shortly after removal of splint. Almost immediately I noticed numbness of fingers, also ulnar sided wrist pain. Dr suspected CPS and possible TFCC tear. In early stage of rehab it became apparent that I had difficulty with extension and supination. Therapy helped extension somewhat, supination improvement minimal. After MRI and nerve study it was determined I did have CPS and likely TFCC tear, wound up having arthroscopic surgery July 15 for both, PT restarted this week. Pain on ulnar side seems to get worse almost daily. extension and supination almost worse then before surgery, I know and understand continued PT may resolve my issues eventually. … my main concern at the moment is what seems to be increased pain, and a burning sensation on ulnar side. Realizing how complicated wrist injuries can be, am I being impatient perhaps? is what I am experiencing normal? Much appreciate your time reading and sharing your experiences.

    1. Hi — Complications are not considered ‘normal’ by definition. They can be a consequence of surgery or injury. This is really a complex set of circumstances and one that does not lend itself well to generalizations. If the doctor feels you do have CRPS, you might consider a consultation with a pain management specialist to help break the cycle of pain.

  5. How soon should physical therapists have you do wrist stretching without brace from surgery with plate and screws from a broken wrist?

  6. I had surgery on my wrist ( plates and screws) last year and I’m still having pain, sharp stabbing pain is that normal?

    1. Hi Mandy- Sharp, stabbing pain is not a usual outcome of wrist plate and screw fixation, so you may want to get new xrays and check with your surgeon. -Dr. Wolfe

    1. Hi Stephanie- If you have any concerns about your recent surgery, you should contact your surgeon directly. -Dr. Wolfe

  7. I had surgery on wrist 5 days ago. Plate and screws were put in. Only complaint right now is that my thumb feels numb and tingly – like it’s asleep – is this normal?

    1. Hi Pamela- It should not be considered “normal” (as in expected in every patient), but it is also likely that it is transient and will go away with time, due to bruising. Alert your surgeon, and monitor it for improvement. If it worsens or involves other digits, it can be investigated with nerve diagnostic studies.
      -Dr. Wolfe

    2. I had surgery to repair my broken wrist (plate and screws put in) and the surgeon also did an open carpal tunnel release at the same time. My surgery was May 5th. Since my surgery, my thumb has been feeling the same as you have described yours. I had a lot of swelling in my hand and wrist. So much that once the break was healed (last week) my doctor placed me on an oral steriod pack to help the swelling. I can tell a huge difference, but my thumb is still feeling”numb”. It’s like the feeling of very cold hands under very hot water.

  8. It would be better if the patients answered each other because the responses are very much CYA responses that healthcare professionals dare not step on any toes.

    1. Hi Jennifer – We appreciate your comment. This blog provides opportunity for patients to try and help one another, and we encourage everyone to leave comments where possible. In cases where questions are directed at our physicians, we answer to the best of our ability given the scenario.

  9. Hi, I broke my right wrist March 29th, 2016 and had surgery with metal plate put in on April 5, 2016. Since the day I broke my wrist my thumb has been ice cold and throbbing. To everyone else it feels normal and warm. I have had to wrap it with hot towels and sleep with heating pad. Now I feel numbness, tingling, and electric shock from my hand all the way up past my forearm. My physical therapist and doctor says this is normal. I’m in so much pain and my quality of life has drastically went down. I’m 67 years old and was very active until this happened. Please anyone let me know your experience with your broken wrist and if you have taken this long to heal. Is this normal? Thank you

    1. “Icy cold and throbbing sensations in a single digit two months following this type of surgery may not be normal. This is often a symptom of nerve compression or nerve compromise. You might consider a consultation with a hand surgeon and potentially a set of electrodiagnostic studies of your nerve function.” – Dr. Wolfe

      If you’d like to see someone at HSS, please call our Physician Referral Service at 888-720-1982 or fill out the following online request form: https://www.hss.edu/secure/prs-appointment-request.asp.

  10. Hi,
    I had surgery on my left dominant hand (wrist), i had a distal fracture dislocation on my radius, and got 3 pins put in to support the direction on the regrowth of my radius. After how many days from surgery would you think it would be okay to go back to school/work?

    1. Hi Carma- In terms of post-operative recovery, the external frame and pins are usually removed sequentially, beginning 3-6 weeks after surgery, followed by a few additional weeks of removable splint wear. More information on distal radius fractures can be found at the following link: https://www.hss.edu/conditions_distal-radius-fractures-of-the-wrist.asp. It would be best to consult with your physician as they would have a better understanding in determining your return to school and work.

  11. Hello i shattered my right wrist i am right handed one and a half years ago , i had a plate and 11 screws placed in my wrist i went to therapy . My finger doesn’t open or close all the way and my hand is tilted to the right .My handwriting is horrible and it hurts to write. My hand hurts all the time.How common is it for a hand to be that way after surgery And all this time? Is there anything that can be done to fix it ?

    1. Hi Cindy, thank you for reaching out. We feel that it would be best to consult with your treating physician so that they can determine the best course of treatment and therapy. If you wish to receive care at HSS, please contact our Physician Referral Service at 877-606-1555 for further assistance.

    2. Range of movement only about 60% after screws and plate for a fracture. Had screws and plates removed. Rom imprived

  12. Hi,

    I’ve just had my surgery yesterday of my left wrist scaphoid bone. It is a completely displaced proximal pole fracture (non-union). Was given a local anesthetic and sedation, the effects of which are still present. My wrist still feels slightly frozen and I’m just waiting to feel some motion on my fingers. How long until I get some movement. There’s not much pain as I’m on painkillers and I’m slightly worried as I wasn’t told anything about my surgery after I was done. I’m not sure as to when should I meet my doctor or when will I get some kind movement. Any insight on this would be of great help.

    Thanks.

    1. Hi Augustine, thank you for reaching out. Dr. Steve Lee, Orthopedic Surgeon, says: “It would depend if you had a regional block, which can last for a day. It would be best to discuss this with your surgeon.” If you wish to receive care at HSS, please contact our Physician Referral Service at 877-606-1555 for further assistance.

  13. I FELL BROKE MY WRIST ON 2/19/15. IT IS NOW
    5/10/15.I HAVE SEEN 3 DIFFERENT ORO DR AN THEY HAVE DONE NOTHING EXCEPT GIVE ME PAIN PILLS AN WANTS ME TO GO TO THERAPY.
    I AM IN A LOT OF PAIN AN CAN NOT GET THE
    SWELLING DOWN I KEEP IT UP ALL THE TIME.
    IS THERE SOMETHING I CAN TAKE TO GET IT DOWN. I WORK WITH MY FINGER OTHERWISE
    THEY GET SO STIFF. ALL THE DR ARE IN THE SAME OFFICE. I WOULD TAKE IBUPROFEN BUT AM VERY ALLERGIC. DO U THINK I SHOULD TRY ANOTHER DR. I AM 75 IN GREAT HEALTH TOOK NO MEDS TILL PAIN PILLS. I AM HERB AN VITAMIN GAL. WHAT DO I DO. I AM CAREGIVER FOR MY HUSBAND HE TAKES 28
    PILLS A DAY. LOOKING TO HEAR FROM U SOON. THANKS

    1. Hi TJ, thank you for reaching out! We recommend that you consult with a physical therapist who can better advise your injury. However, if you wish to receive any care at HSS, please contact our Physician Referral Service at 877-606-1555 for further assistance. The Physician Referral Service will assist in ensuring that patients are connected with the physician that best meets their needs. For more information, visit https://www.hss.edu/physician-referral-service.asp.

  14. I broke my wrist and had surgery with a plate and screws put in ” my hand , fingers feel numb and tingling ” I have been elevating it and keeping ice packs on it. how long does the swelling usually last

    1. Hi, thank you for reaching out. Swelling after surgery can last 6 months to a year. Occupational Therapy can help with increasing movement in your fingers. If the swelling persists, it is advised to seek a consultation with your treating physician. If you wish to receive care at HSS, please contact our Physician Referral Service at 877-606-1555 for further assistance.

  15. I’ve been doing light Physical therapy and moving my fingers and taking vitamins like calcium and vitamin d and b-12 a lot and plus I’ve been sleeping. Anyway else I can speed this process up. I want to start physical therapy ASAP so to prevent further atrophy. .

    1. Hi Kelly Ann, thank you for reaching out. It would best for you to consult with your treating physician who is familiar with your course of treatment. If you wish to receive care at HSS, please contact our Physician Referral Service at 877-606-1555 for further assistance. For more information about our Physician Referral Service, visit https://www.hss.edu/physician-referral-service.asp.

    1. Hi Karen, thank you for reaching out. It would be best if you consulted with you treating physician about this issue so they can determine the best course of action. If you are interested in receiving care at HSS, please contact our Physician Referral Service at 877-606-1555 for further assistance.

  16. broke my wrist in Feb. of 2014.. still extremely painful and throbs throughout the whole day. curious as to why I’m still in pain after months of healing.

  17. Hi,

    I had a wrist fracture on 4th nov due to bike accident ,surgery is done & steel plate was kept.
    After 2 months I started driving bike
    now i feel swelling in the wrist area and pain exactly in the stritch area

    1. Hi Deepan, thank you for reaching out. It would be best for you to consult with your treating physician to determine the best course of treatment during your recovery process. If you wish to receive care at HSS, please contact our Physician Referral Service at 877-606-1555 for further assistance.

  18. I had a fracture (dislocation of my bone) injury on my wrist. I want to regain my strength, what do i do?

    1. Hi Atharv, thank you for reaching out. It is best for you to seek consultation with a physician so that they can determine the best course of treatment. If you wish to receive care at HSS, please contact our Physician Referral Service at 877-606-1555 for further assistance.

  19. Hi,
    My father sustained a colles’ fracture on Saturday last week and was advised by the ortho team to go home and come back for surgery on Monday. He has since been cancelled and rebook every day this week (up to tomorrow, which is Thursday), he’s now rebooked for Friday, which will be 7 days post the initial break. I know this is not unsual for a patient in the public system in Australia, but I wondered how long can he go before he had to have the surgery? Is there a maximum period of time before it’s too late for the surgery?

    I have asked his surgeons but they give me vague answers about how it doesn’t matter because he’ll be done “tomorrow” and so far tomorrow has never come.

    Thanks in advance.

    1. Hi Sarah, thank you for reaching out. Dr. Lana Kang, Orthopedic Surgeon, says: ?There is no hard fast cut off and generally, up to two weeks (and even greater) after a closed surgery is a reasonable time for fixation, as long as the condition was not a severe open fracture, and there is no neurovascular injuries or associated compartment syndrome or unrelenting pain.? If you wish to receive care at HSS, please contact our Physician Referral Service at 877-606-1555, for further assistance.

  20. It has been two years and 7 months that I have had surgery for a Distal Radius Colles Fracture. A rake was put in, the pain when I woke up from an 7 hour surgery was awful. I didn’t wake up groggy, I woke up screaming in pain. Then, of course, a surgery that was considered day surgery I was left over night. I did OT for four months but, what was noticed I did not have any feeling in my thumb nor good circulation. So, went under the knife again for Carpal tunnel. It did work. Of course I suffered a lot of nerve damage. I did six more weeks of OT, some functions did improve but, what they told me at the physical therapy place there is not more we can do for you. Everything is limited, to hold an onion while slicing it to potatoes. To carrying grocery bags. I am just trying to mention little things. In the past two months I have noticed that on the top side of my arm my bones are very loose almost like they are shifting up and down which is painful. Plus my OP doc retired so I cant get an appointment right away. So would anyone know is this a natural thing that happens or should I try to find a Dr.?

    1. Hi Martha, thank you reaching out. It would be best if you had an in-person consultation with a physician. However, if you wish to receive care at HSS, please contact our Physician Referral Service 877-606-1555, for further assistance.

  21. I broke my wrist and had to have surgery and received a plate with screws 25 days ago. In how many weeks will I be able to return to work? My work require typing. I already can type slowly.

    1. Hi Edy, thank you for reaching out! We think that it would be best if you consulted with your surgeon or treating physician. If you wish to receive care at HSS, please contact our Physician Referral Service at 877-606-1555 for further assistance.

    2. I had wrist surgery on a Monday and went to work that Friday. I was in a lot of pain and could hardly type or turn papers. And it really hurt the next few weeks but I got better each day moving my fingers. Still can not turn my hand face up. It has been about 8bweeks since my surgery.

  22. i have had 5 surgeries on my right hand in the last five years. the first was a boxers fracture. second was reconstructive surgery that [laced two pins in my wrist and a metal socket for my ball joint in my wrist, third was to remove scar tissue, forth was also a reconstructive surgery that contained six sets of plates put into my hand to hold my tendons together bc i severed my hand which included broken bone, severed tendons and arteries. before i lost my insurance i had a prescription for pain medication bc i have chronic pain but lost my job and insurance, so how would i go about getting another prescription without gong to see a specialist and paying an arm and a leg?

    1. Hi Kevin, thank you for reaching out. It is important that you seek an in-person consultation with a physician so they can better determine the proper course of treatment. At Hospital for Special Surgery, the Insurance Advisory Service can provide you with the most up-to-date information at 212-774-2607. For more information regarding specific physician practices, please contact the Physician Referral Service at 877-606-1555 for further assistance.

  23. I broke my wrist and had to have surgery and received a plate with 9 screws 10 days ago. I have full mobility of my fingers and have had 5 PT sessions and am gaining flexibility in my wrist bending down but not as much flexibility bending back and very little range twisting my wrist back and forth. I am currently in a splint, how long is the recovery time and when should I be able to start lifting things with my hand.

    1. Hi Liz, thank you for reaching it out. It would be best if you to consult with your treating physician. If you wish to receive care at HSS, please contact our Physician Referral Service at 877-606-1555 for further assistance.

  24. I HAD BONE DISLOCATION AND HAD SURGERY.NOW 5 WEEKS ARE OVER. THE PIN USED TO FIX THE BONES HAVE BEEN REMOVED. I DO NOT HAVE PAIN, BUT THERE IS SWELLING IN MY FINGURES. DR. HAS GIVEN MEDICINES FOR THIS, BUT I WANT TO KNOW WHEN I WILL RECDOVER FULLY.
    BHARAT

    1. Hi Bharat, thank you for reaching out. It is best to consult with your treating physician so they can determine the best course of treatment. If you wish to receive care at HSS, please contact our Physician Referral Service at 877-606-1555 for further assistance.

  25. I had a high energy distal radious fracture along with torn ligaments. My fracture happened August 14 and had surgery performed August 20th. My doctor said he inserted a couple of plates and a bunch of screws along with 6 pins and an external fixator it has been 5 weeks after surgery but my swelling and pain have not decreased since the surgery and the fingers that are attached to my median nerve are still numb and swollen and i can barely move them. I’m wondering if it is normal I’m having these symptoms it feels like it is worsening instead of ggetting better. Any advice on what i can do to feel better.

    1. Hi, thank you for reaching out. It would be best to seek an in-person consultation with your treating physician who is familiar with your medical history so that they can determine the best course of treatment. If you wish to receive care at HSS, please contact our Physician Referral Service at 877-606-1555 for further assistance.

  26. Hi I’m sorry I haven’t had surgery but hear me out please. I’m curious why my left palm or wrist won’t turn 160? palm up. I try as much as I can to get it horizontal but I get to a point where you can give a thumbs up but beyond that it’s usually painful to use my left hand This has been something I’ve had since I was born and it’s always been in the back of my mind. Currently I started to work out trying to body build and while doing reps of pull ups I noticed a sharp pain go through my pinky up to my arm. It wasn’t severe but I’m worried that if I continue I might tear something or worst? Any thought what it may be or any advice? Thank you in advance everyone

    1. Hi Danny, thanks for reaching out. It is best to consult with your treating physician. If you are interested in care at HSS, please contact our Physician Referral Service at 877-606-1555 for further assistance.

  27. I have Kienb?ck”s Disease and had surgery done for it three months ago. The surgery was a radial shortening and osteoplasty. My wrist is stil very sore when I try to bend it, but I was instructed to move it in phsyical therapy. Is the pain and stiffness normal at this time of post-op, and what could I do to relieve the pain?

    1. Hi Caroline, thank you for reaching out. It is best for you to seek an in person consultation with a physician who is familiar with your course of treatment so they can better advise. If you wish to receive care at HSS, please contact our Physician Referral Service at 877-606-1555 for further assistance.

  28. Hey, Ive just had surgery for my scaphoid. about 8 hours from writing this message, and i can’t feel/move my fingers and my thumb. Is this normal? if so, how long will it last

  29. Hi, my brother just had surgery at his shoulder because he was shot by robbers and the bullet damaged one of the nerves so a transplant was done but now he feels so much pain and the right hand is swollen. What can be done, thanks.

    1. Hi Jolaade, thank you for reaching out. It is best for your brother to seek an in-person consultation with a physician so they can determine the best course of treatment. If he wishes to receive care at HSS, please contact our Physician Referral Service at 877-606-1555 for further assistance.

  30. As the result of a pretty serious fall, I broke both the radius and ulna just above my left wrist and dislocated my wrist, too. (The bones, in the x-ray, were crossed over each other.) Ouch!!! One thing has me troubled: both before and after surgery I had “phantom” movement sensations in my fingers. I could swear my fingers stretched and clenched, opened again, but when I looked, they were still clenched, unmoved and unmovable.

    My pinky and ring fingers would not move at all, and I had little use for my thumb. The surgery was yesterday, and all day today, I have had tingling in my thumb and, again, I feel my fingers move and touch each other– and they are completely still. I also have the sensation that someone/thing is pressing on the bottom of my thumb, but it is free– nothing touching it.

    I told the surgeon this before the surgery yesterday, and he took note of it, but said nothing. Is this normal, and if not, should I be reporting this asap to him? It is a very disturbing feeling to sense these movements and touching sensations in my fingers when they are completely still. I am right-handed, and the injury is in my left wrist, arm.

    Please help. I teach and am a writer, so I type quite a bit. I need mobility in these fingers. Right now, I am truly worried the nerve damage may be more severe than was originally thought.

    1. Hi Trish, thank you for reaching out. For more information on distal radius fractures, please visit https://www.hss.edu/conditions_distal-radius-fractures-of-the-wrist.asp. It is best for you to seek an in-person consultation with a treating physician who is familiar with your medical history so they can determine the proper course of treatment. If you wish to receive care at HSS, please contact our Physician Referral Service at 877-606-1555 for further assistance.

  31. Fell on June 7, 2014 (Cast for 2 weeks) then surgery on 6/26/14 to put in plate and screws on dominent hand. Started hand PT 2x a week on 7/18/14. I”m now able to do some small chores such as cooking and writing, but find pain and numbness day and night.in my fingers and hand. I”ve been using ice packs constantly. today”s date is 8/5/14. How long is my recovery expected? I”m a healthy, active 80 yr. old woman. .

    1. Hi Elaine, thank you for reaching out. It is best for you to consult with your treating physician who is familiar with your course of treatment. If you wish to receive care at HSS, please contact our Physician Referral Service at 877-606-1555 for further assistance.

  32. I had wrist surgery 5 months ago…plate and 11 screws on my dominate hand….I have pain every day where It makes me massage my wrist or grab it I also have arthritis in the wrist and hand….is this something that I will have for the rest of my life…?

    1. Hi Michael, thank you for reaching out. It is best for you to consult with your treating physician who is familiar with your course of treatment. If you wish to receive care at HSS, please contact our Physician Referral Service at 877-606-1555 for further assistance.

  33. Hi,
    Its only been 3 days since I”ve gotten a cyst removed from my wrist and the swelling is still pretty significant. Yesterday my hand turned blue from what I believed was a tight wrap, but it returned to normal color after I unwrapped it. I had called the doctors office who performed the surgery, and the nurses said the “bruising” was normal but I don”t think it was bruising. My wrist was being deprived of blood I think. Now it is still swelled a good amount, with my knuckles and joint on my fingers swelled too. The joints on my fingers are stiff a little and slightly purple. I was supposed to be given a splint (or so I was told) and was not given one, or even given the suggetion to put it in a sling. I was also told not to remove the gauze that”s covering the stitches, for 2 weeks. Is this alright, or should I give the doctor”s office a call and ask why? Should I be worried, or do anything else?

    1. Hi Stacy, thank you for reaching out. It is best for you to consult with your treating physician who is familiar with your course of treatment. If you wish to receive care at HSS, please contact our Physician Referral Service at 877-606-1555 for further assistance.

  34. Hi i had surgurey on my right wrist they nerv blocked All my nervs last night the nerv block begin to wear off and pain kicked in bad im i able to sleep on my side ,?

    1. Hi Brandon, thank you for reaching out. It is best for you to consult with a treating physician who is most familiar with your course of treatment. If you wish to receive care at HSS, please contact our Physician Referral Service at 877-606-1555 for further assistance.

  35. I’m wondering how long does it take to heal 100% after surgery and pins in my moms wrist she had it done 7 weeks ago took the cast and pins out a week ago but still is a lot of pain and discomfort and sleepless nights

  36. I fractured right wrist in Jan. Cast was very tight and fingers were very swollen. No cast change or relief made by physician. I had hand therapy from specialist after cast removal from Feb. 14- end of June. Stiff fingers, loss of strength in hand, no improvement and it is end of July,
    I believe the tight cast has caused permanent damage. This is unacceptable.

    1. Hi Paula, thanks for reaching out. It is best for you to seek an in-person consultation with a physician so they can better advise. If you wish to receive care at HSS, please contact our Physician Referral Service at 877-606-1555 for further assistance.

  37. I broke the distal radius in my left wrist and had the recommended surgery where a metal plate and screws were implanted. About 2 weeks later, I returned to my doctor to have the stitches removed. He then referred me to their physical therapy office to have a splint devised which has ended up costing me a few hundred dollars more on top of the cost of the surgery. Is this a normal recommendation? My insurance company is showing the splint as a prosthetic device, but according to my doctor’s medical assistant, it is correct as the splint was made especially for me. My issues are: 1) the recommendation for one as I just had surgery and, 2) the code and cost for a splint made when any generic splint would have done the job.

  38. I had surgery on my left wrist on April 11, 2014. Initially the pain was severe but subsided after a couple of weeks with medication. The sutures developed a minor odor but no infection was detected. Therapy began six weeks after surgery. My wrists (broke both wrists) are healing but there is still discomfort in the left wrist. The left wrist has a metal plate with nine screws. Swelling is still prevalent but exercises and cold compresses help a lot. My job requires a lot of typing on the laptop and travel. I have not returned yet pending the doctor”s response for accommodations.

  39. Been over month and still in pain. Going to therapy as well. I heard peeps have had to have plate removed, don’t want to go thru that surgery again. Good luck

    1. Hi Dona, thank you for sharing and good luck with your road to recovery. Please let us know if we can be of further assistance.

  40. Dear dr
    having painful swelling n sharp pain in wrist around pin icing n elavation help a little but unable to sleep. Too uncomfortable. My Dr not returning calls!

  41. Hello i broke my wrist and had three pins put in and taken out of my arm. I have had the pins out for about 4 days now and I”m not sure how i should clean the pin sites. Also I am very limited in my range of motion. When i try to rotate my arm, make a fist, or stretch out my fingers there is a lot of pressure in my wrist. What causes this?

  42. Hay my name haresh i have open reduction internal fixation and open carpal tunnel release i am working at grocery store produce Clark so what is limit for weight lifting so i am capable for lifting.

    1. Hi Haresh, thank you for reaching out. For more information on wrist injuries, please visit https://hss.edu/condition-list_hand-wrist.asp. It is best for you to consult with your treating physician so they can better advise. If you wish to receive care at HSS please contact our Physician Referral Service at 877-606-1555 for further assistance.

  43. My sister is having wrist surgery for arthritis and I will take care of her (to the point she will let me-she’s very stubborn) I have tons of ?’s about day to day care – what works best for keeping it raised? It’s her “non-dominant” hand – but what about clothes and she wants to garden and drive! What I do about these issues? I know these are silly ?’s but she’s the Nurse-she usually takes care of me and I want to do it the best I can.

    1. Hi Cindy, thank you for reaching out. For more information on hand and wrist injuries, please visit https://www.hss.edu/orthopedic-hand-service.asp. It is best for your sister to consult with her treating physician so that they can better advise. If she wishes to receive care at HSS, please contact our Physician Referral Service at 877-606-1555 for further assistance.

  44. I had surgery on my scaphoid bone. It was a non-union bone graft, delayed. They put a pin in between my middle knuckle and ring finger knuckle down through my whole hand into the bone. The pin is starting to protrude in the skin and when I extend and curl my fingers I can feel it move. Is that normal?

  45. I had a distal wrist fracture 1/31/2014 and surgery 2/6/2014. An external fix and pins were used and they remained for 7 weeks. I began therapy but am wondering how long it will be until I can play golf.

    1. Hi Ed, thank you for reaching out. It is best for you to consult with your treating physician so they can better advise. If you wish to receive care at HSS, please contact our Physician Referral Service at 877-606-1555 for further assistance.

  46. I had my scaphoid bone fixed with a screw and my cast will be on for approximately seven weeks. When I get it off how long does it usually take to regain a good amount of strength and use of it? Thank you

  47. I fell and broke both both wrist bones, had surgery on both sides with two plates/pins put in. I started therapy, two times per week, 3 weeks post surgery with a certified hand specialist. It has been 4 months and my progress for functional purposes has been excellent; however, I am a violist and the tendons/ligaments across the back of my hand are still extremely painful when I attempt to play. Any idea of when that will improve or anything I can do to help this issue?

    1. Hi Donna, thank you for reaching out. It is best for you to consult with your treating physician and hand specialist so that they can better advise. If you wish to receive care at HSS, please contact our Physician Referral Service at 877-606-1555 for further assistance.

    2. Hi, I broke both wrists (exclusive club!) collis fractures, displaced and thru joint 24 April, plated and pinned both sides. Am now in splints with home Physio 3 times a day.
      I have pain on wrist joint of left wrist which was the worst, but have pain on back of hand (I think tendons) I think time seems to be solution, but like you I want to get back to normal and pay free as soon as possible.
      For anyone else with double fractures:
      at first use a Spoon to eat. Remove tablets from container for you.
      Ask someone to tear off toilet tissue and put In a pile you can reach, put toothpaste on manual brush, go commando, its impossible to pull up panties. Paper cups and straw, much lighter to lift than cup.

        1. I also broke both wrists (3/29/14) and had two surgeries of plates and pins/screws (3/30/14). Just started physical therapy yesterday. Tendons are very stiff all the way through fingers. Left wrist was the worst. I can not turn it over to the left. 1 week ago I couldn’t really Bend the wrists but now I can some. Everything is very stiff. My right hand fingers and hand and wrist fall asleep at night and wake me up from the pain. I have to massage them over and over to get it to stop. But often throughout the night. During the day and night the fingers are swollen as are the wrists. I am to do PT 4 x a week aT the facility (so far for a month) and then 3-4 times a day numerous exercises. They are difficult, painful and time consuming. But just in two days I feel like movement is getting a bit better.

  48. My wife had a bad and shattered her elbow. My concern is how long should we expect her hand to continue swelling after her elbow surgery? It”s been 6 weeks so far.
    Also, what is causing the swelling in her hand? It would be nice to better understand the conditon.
    Thank you for any guidance.

  49. I broke my wrist I had my surgery pins removed after 4 weeks my knuckles and my fingers are swelled is it normal to still be swell like that and it hurts have another hard cast on for another 2 weeks

    1. Hi Donna, thanks for reaching out with your question. Dr. Duretti Fufa, Orthopedic Surgeon, says: ?Swelling is normal four weeks after having pins removed. Swelling can also be caused by immobilization or if the cast is too tight. Elevation can help with swelling. You should follow up with a hand surgeon to determine the cause.? It is best to consult with your treating physician who is most familiar with your injury and treatment plan. If you wish to receive care at HSS, please contact our Physician Referral Service at 877-606-1555 for further assistance.

  50. Hi, My condition is different.I took a very hard fall and fell with my left hand catching me,I have had 3 surgeries and the last one a piece of the arm bone by my pinkie finger was amputated and put back with yet another plate.Im in agony every day.both my bones were snapped iinto at the time of the fall,my hand was turned backwards .I cant even find a doctor to help with pain,on top of that Ive had Fibromyalgia for two decades….I need help with a caring doctor,I never sleep due to pain until after nights and days I crash from exhaustion,.Is There HELP out there for me to live again?

    1. Hi Marlene, thank you for reaching out. If you wish to receive care at HSS, please contact our Physician Referral Service at 877-606-1555 for further assistance.

  51. 5 weeks ago I fell from my attic/lofti fell onto my arm causing a wrist fracture. My Consultant put me through surgery 3 weeks ago classing it has a unstable fracture, I have no pain from the plate or the screws but my fingers won”t make a fist especially the one next to the thumb and the outside of my thumb is numb and feels to touch as if iv had dental treatment n your cheek feels numb. I also get random shooting pains at the bottom of my thumb. Also the movement in my wrist joint is very limited back forth and side to side, if I was asked to turn my palm in an upward position on a table I would literally have to move my elbow towards my body n move my body.. Is this nerve n ligament damage? I know it”s early days however iv read online lots of literature regarding the break and plate etc, some say after surgery you can resume to pretty much normal life within weeks which in my case I can”t see that happening I”m still waiting an appointment from physio however in the meantime iv been exercising it myself on a hourly basis but still very limited n very frustrated because it”s my dominant hand.. Have you any answers? Or maybe can advise me how to get the nerves n ligaments back to normal.. Many Thanks x

    1. Hi Jackie, thank you for reaching out. It is best to consult with your treating physician who is familiar with your medical history. Hospital for Special Surgery?s Hand Service is world renowned for treating children and adults suffering from all bone and soft-tissue conditions of the hand and upper extremity. For more information, please visit https://www.hss.edu/orthopedic-hand-service.asp. If you wish to receive care at HSS, please contact our Physician Referral Service at 877-606-1555 for further assistance.

  52. My partner had a distal radius break after a bad fall. She”s had a plate implanted and is now worried about swelling in her wrist. When should it subside and how long does it take for the suture scars to disappear?

    1. Hi Greg, thank you for reaching out. Dr. Duretti Fufa, Orthopedic Surgeon, says: “Swelling after surgery can last 6 months to a year. Working with an occupational therapist can help with increasing movements. She should follow up with a hand surgeon to assure that she is healing properly. Scars typically take a year to fully mature. It is rare for scars to fully disappear but can become lighter over time.” It is best to consult with your treating physician who is most familiar with your injury and treatment plan. If you wish to receive care at HSS, please contact our Physician Referral Service at 877-606-1555 for further assistance.

  53. Hello I was in a car accident on 1/4/14. I broke my wrist and had to have surgery. The surgeon wanted to repair my wrist by using a plate in my wrist. Unfortunetly, due to road rash injury on the back of my arm that developed a staph infection, the surgeon was unable to open my wrist up and make an incision to insert the plate. He had to use pins and put a cast on my wrist. The pins ended up getting buried into my skin so i had to have surgery to remove the pins and insert 2 other pins. Today, 2-12-14, I had the pins removed and my cast taken off. Tonight I am have severe pain that is almost as bad as the pain I had right after the injury. Any ideas what could be causing this pain.I have had some pain ever since i broke but nothing like the pain I am having tonight. I mentioned to my dr today that I was still having some pain, he said its normal but like i said that pain was nothing compared to the pain I am having now. I was curious if anyone has had severe pain after having pins removed or might know whats causing the pain

    1. Hi Nana, thank you for reaching out. If you wish to receive care at HSS, please call our Physician Referral Service at 877-606-1555 for further assistance.

  54. I have a competitive gymnasts who was seen for wrist pain – she ended up having surgery on her wrist what we thought was a ganglion cyst that had ruptured, instead the doctor found she had dorsal wrist impingement. She is now 6 weeks post surgery and still has some on and off pinching pain on the pinky side of her wrist. What could this be? and will this go away? Also it seems she development a lump (we think now a ganglion) after surgery by her incision, why? is their anything she can be doing to help with her recovery?

    Thank you
    And will the pain

    1. Hi Vicki, thanks for reaching out with your question. Dr. Duretti Fufa, Orthopedic Surgeon, says: “RICE (rest, ice, compression and elevation) can help following surgery to reduce pain and swelling. She should be reevaluated by her hand surgeon if symptoms persist for the best course of treatment.” It is best to consult with your treating physician who is most familiar with your injury and treatment plan. If you wish to receive care at HSS, please contact our Physician Referral Service at 877-606-1555 for further assistance.

  55. Trying to figure out when I should settle with the insurance company. Had plate and 9 screws put in – surgeon and therapists were the best. Just wondering what the chances are of having problems with the plate or screws down the line. I have an occasional pain in my hand and some numbness if I touch certain parts of my wrist (figure it’s just the nerve that I’m hitting) but really back to 95% of what it was.

    1. Hi Kathy, thank you for reaching out. We recommend that you contact your treating physician to discuss your concerns. If you wish to receive care at HSS, please contact our Physician Referral Service at 877-606-1555 for further assistance.

  56. Hi there, I fell December 2 broke wrist and had surgery December 10! I have numbness in fingers waking up mornings is this normal? I did not have this until now 4 weeks later! What is normal recovery time?

    1. Hi Mary, thank you for reaching out. Tara Carey, Certified Hand Therapist, says: “People sometimes experience symptoms related to carpal tunnel syndrome after sustaining a wrist fracture. That could explain the numbness in the fingers upon waking up. The numbness could also be related to a cast or a splint that is too tight or the way the arm is positioned while sleeping. If the numbness is persistent, it is best to follow up with your surgeon and discuss your symptoms.”

  57. Hi, I fracture my wrist on December 15th and had surgery on the 31st. I now have metal plates and screws on my wrist to help my bone stay in place. About how long it take for me to heal to the point I can play sports again? I”m 20 years old

    1. Hi Nixon, thank you for reaching out. Tara Carey, Certified Hand Therapist, says: “Your surgeon will determine when you will be cleared to return to sport. Depending on the sport(s) that you participate in, you should expect to be cleared to play about 8-12 weeks after surgery. At that point, your surgeon may suggest a splint to use while you play for extra protection.”

  58. I had surgery of my wrist 15 days ago the pain is still at about 8 I could barely move my fingers progress is really slow my injury occurred 48 days ago I see nor feel any improvement what do you recommend is this normal

    1. Hi Belitza, thank you for reaching out. Tara Carey, Certified Hand Therapist, says: “It is not uncommon for pain levels to be high within the first few post-operative weeks. If you are having difficulty managing your pain, you should follow up with your doctor. You should be able to move your fingers fairly easily at this point and you should be noticing small gains in range of motion and function each week. If you are concerned with your progress thus far, it is best to discuss those concerns with your doctor.”

  59. hi i had surgery 1 month ago for broken distal radious and ulna and still have bad pain and swelling, is this normal.i had x-ray 2 weeks ago nd surgeon says it look good..then why the pain. thanks

    1. Hi Joanne, thank you for reaching out. Tara Carey, Certified Hand Therapist, says: “Post-operative pain and swelling are both normal. The initial injury you sustained and the resultant surgery were traumatic to the bone(s) and the surrounding tissues and that is why you are still feeling pain. Both the pain and swelling should gradually subside as the weeks go on.” It is best to consult with your treating physician.

  60. I had surgery in Dec 5, 2days ago. I have a plate and2 pins and pulled ligaments. Most of the pain has passed but I am concerned about one thing. Its normal to have swelling. I”ve been using ice and elevating. Today I was feeling so much better I helped my daughter clean the bath rooms. Bad idea. My hand is numb and my 2 middle fingers seem much worse with swelling. I have a bubble kinda on the top of my hand. The middle 2 fingers won”t bend as easily and my arm creaks as it settles. She I be concerned?

    1. Hi Lacy, thank you for reaching out. It is best for patients to consult with their treating physicians with post-operative questions. If you are interested in care at HSS, please contact our Physician Referral Service at 877-606-1555 for assistance.

  61. i had wrist surgery to replace the ligament and rotate the bone back to its original position, they used a peice of tendon from the back of my forearm and pins to repair , how long will the pins be in and how long until i am back to normal activity, i am very active 40 y/o man thanks

    1. Hi Kyle, thank you for reaching out. It is best for patients to consult with their treating physicians with post-operative questions. If you are interested in care at HSS, please contact our Physician Referral Service at 877-606-1555 for assistance.

  62. Hi,

    I broke my distal radius 15 days ago and had a surgery placing screws and a plate 4 days ago. I am still in pain(6 out if 10) and I’m frequently taking oxycodone to relieve it. How long do you think I will be in pain? I want to go back to school in 3 days. Thanks

    1. Hi Ram, thank you for your question. Dr. Scott Wolfe, Orthopedic Surgeon, says: “I would recommend that you consult with your surgeon and have radiographs and an examination of your wrist. Everyone has a different pain tolerance but severe pain that lasts more than 2 weeks after surgery should be brought to your surgeon’s attention.” It is best to consult with your treating physician. If you are interested in receiving care at HSS, please reach out to our Physician Referral Service at 877-606-1555 for assistance.

  63. Hey! I have ehlers-danlos syndrome and a bony deficiency in the top of my radius. My ulna keeps dislocating dorsally at the wrist so they want to do a surgery where they take a piece of my hip and wedge it into the radius to try and create a more concave shape so my ulna doesn”t dislocate anymore, they”ll also be doing some repair of my ligaments because they”re so stretched out while they”re in there. What should I expect recovery wise, from this surgery? Thanks!

    1. Hi Annie, thank you for your question. Dr. Scott Wolfe, Orthopedic Surgeon, says: “The procedure you described is done rarely and there are decidedly few outcomes reported, especially in patients with lax ligaments, such as those with collagen-vascular disorders (Ehlers-Danlos). It would be important that you have a high-resolution cartilage sensitive sequence MRI prior to surgery to be sure that you have sufficient remaining cartilage to support a reconstruction of that joint. The greatest risk of any procedure in a patient with EDS is recurrent dislocation.” It is best to consult with your treating physician. If you are interested in receiving care at HSS, please reach out to our Physician Referral Service at 877-606-1555 for assistance.

  64. I had a bad fall downhill mountain biking which resulted in multiple breaks in the articulation face of my distal radius as well as a reverse colles fracture and broke the tip off my ulna. I had surgery after 7 days and had an external fixator and plate installed & I had the fixator removed last week. in total its been 6 weeks since I broke it. When I lower my arm to my side my hand swells and turns beat red; I also don’t have full function of my fingers back… Will physio still be able to unlock my stiff fingers, and is my hand swelling pretty normal for a severe break like this? (The tip of my ulna is still in my wrist unattached; but it hasn’t provided any discomfort yet; my Surgeon said he may k wire it)

    1. Hi Matt, thanks for reaching out with your question. Dr. Duretti Fufa, Orthopedic Surgeon, says: ?Swelling after surgery can last 6 months to a year. Occupational Therapy can help with increasing movement in your fingers.? It is best to consult with your treating physician who is most familiar with your injury and treatment plan. If you wish to receive care at HSS, please contact our Physician Referral Service at 877-606-1555 for further assistance.

  65. Hi I was in a car accident and my left radius bone was fractured on my wrist. I close to 3 weeks post op from a stryker volar plate surgery and everything seems to be healing well but seem to me that my forearm is crocked and does not line up with my right arm is that normal? Since my wrist was the one broken seems awkward that I can turn my forearm the same as my right regardless of moving my wrist. So I go back and let my physician know this.

    1. Hi Janette, Thanks for reaching out. It is best to consult with your treating physician. If you are interested in care at HSS, please contact our Physician Referral Service at 877-606-1555.

  66. Hi,

    i got my wrist broken couple of days back.
    Surgery has been done.

    How long my hand will be under the cast,i m 25 year old?

    1. Hi Kamal, thank you for reaching out. Dr. Michelle Carlson, Orthopedic Surgeon, says: ?It depends on the type of fracture. It could be as short as one week or as long as three months?. To determine your recovery time, it is best to consult with your treating physician.

  67. hi

    I had surgery to repair distal radius fracture 2 weeks ago. plate and screws were used. As a cyclist im anxious to get back on the road bike. how soon will I be able to get back on the bike.

    1. I will be having the same surgery on July 8th and will have a permanent plate in my wrist. Will also have screws in my w

      1. Hi Annie, thank you for reaching out. We wish you the best on your upcoming surgery! Be sure to ask your physicians any questions that you may have beforehand.

  68. I had a fall during my aerobic session. rushed hospital and I had an operation. my wrist broken and replaced with artificial bone and plate. how long it will take me to recover and I am still in pain after surgery. I was operated on 2 April 2013. its 7 days and I fell very sad because my job is affected. I am going to be 55 in July and a single mother with 3 teenagers to support. what is the fast way to recover.

    1. Thanks for reaching out. Occupational therapist Alexandra MacKenzie says, ?If you are still having a lot of pain, you should contact your surgeon. Unfortunately, it is not unusual to have pain just one week after surgery. You will probably be in a splint for about six weeks, and even after that, recovery can be long. However, it is different for everyone. You can ask your doctor if you can start therapy sooner rather than later, and that should help your recovery process.? Wishing you the best.

    2. Hi Sara,I just had a surgical repair to my wrist last week and our ”life” situations are quite similar.
      I”d love to talk. If you are interested in exchanging emails I”d love to. I just don”t know how to do that in this forum.

      Diane

  69. my fingers are constantly peeling no matter how much lotion I apply. Is this normal and should I be concerned? Manipulative surgery was done six weeks ago, and I am now in a short cast just below the elbow.

    1. Hi Joyce, We consulted with one of our experts from the Hand/Upper Extremity Surgery Service who said, “We normally shed our skin on a daily basis, but regular washing clears this away. In a cast you can’t wash the skin normally, yet it continues to shed. This may be what is going on and usually clears up shortly after regular washing is able to be done once the cast is removed. To be certain, follow up with your surgeon to make certain there isn’t something else going on.” Wishing you the best.

      1. Hi Joyce-
        I had a surgical repair to my fractured wrist on 3/4/15. My cast came off 4/17/15. During my time in the cast, my fingers and palm of the casted arm were peely and itchy. I made the mistake of scratching-I could squeeze my good index finger into my bad palm and scratch. Don’t do it! Now that my cast is off, the skin of that hand is beyond painful. It feels as though it has a blow torch running over it all the time. The pain and swelling of the wrist, arm and hand are awful but the peeled/scratched palm is worse. I know everyone says it but it really is true-be patient and no scratching!! Good luck…

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