Help for your hands
Posted on 3 May 2021
It has never been simpler or more affordable to have life-changing hand surgery. Find expert help at your closest Mediclinic Day Clinic.
If you’ve ever experienced numb hands, had your finger lock while writing, or struggled to open a jar, you know what it’s like to have your hands fail you. But you don’t have to suffer discomfort and disability. A number of treatments can alleviate hand pain and improve function with minimal recovery time.
Your doctor might recommend surgery if conservative treatment for a number of ailments such as carpal tunnel syndrome, trigger finger, ganglions, pinched nerves or arthritis. But this doesn’t mean you have to be admitted to hospital overnight. Day case surgery refers to patients who need to undergo planned, non-emergency surgical procedures – and who are admitted and discharged on the day of surgery. By avoiding unnecessary overnight stays, procedures at a day hospital are invariably less expensive than equivalents at a traditional, full-service hospitals. This translates into considerable cost saving for you and your medical aid scheme. In addition, having surgery at a specialist day hospital relieves the pressure on conventional hospitals.
‘Hand surgery is the highly skilled art of combining orthopaedic and plastic surgery to relieve pain and restore function in the most complex, miraculously engineered anatomical structure,’ says Dr Dirk van der Spuy, an orthopaedic surgeon at The Cape Hand Surgery practice at Mediclinic Constantiaberg.
He offers the following post-surgery guidelines:
- You may have had a local or nerve block (local anaesthetic) that takes away all the sensation and pain in the operated area. Please note that this block is worked out after 8-12 hours. Even if no pain is experienced, it is worth taking your prescribed medication before going to bed or when sensation returns.
- Keep your operated hand/arm elevated on a pillow for the first night after the operation. This allows gravity to drain any fluid and prevent an accumulation of fluid in the hand.
- Your most important duty is to keep the wound dry until you are seen in the practice again. This will promote wound healing and prevent post-operative infection.
- Your post-operative cast or dressing should remain in place until your follow-up appointment, usually just short of two weeks after your operation.
- Smoking significantly delays all wound healing, bone union, tendon and nerve healing and is probably the most common cause for post-operative wound sepsis. It is strongly recommended to stop smoking or at very least cut down, while your wound heals.
- You will be advised if you need hand therapy and rehabilitation after your surgery.
- Pain is normal and expected. We try and take away the sting of surgical pain with anti-inflammatories and light opioids. Pain that should alert you to contact your doctor is crescendo or worsening pain.
- Generally, you will be encouraged to start moving your fingers, thumb or wrist as soon as possible after the operation, unless it is purposefully splinted for protection. This is very important in nerve surgery like carpal tunnel release.
- In long standing cases, relief form nerve-related procedures can take months. This is because the nerve tends to be almost hypersensitive when it has been released and “new” or “atypical” sensations (such as pins and needles, electric shock type feelings, numbness and burning sensations) might be experienced for a few days whilst recovery takes place.