What To Expect: Hand Therapy For Hand Fractures
If you have broken or fractured your hand, there are telltale signs. When your hand is fractured, you may notice pain, swelling, and/or bruising. You may also notice that part of your hand is not feeling like it is in a normal position. A hand fracture is a common type of hand injury..
The most important thing is that if you do have a fracture is that it heals properly. Otherwise, if the bone is not reset into the right place, the muscles will continue to pull it and it will not heal or it will become deformed.
Hand fractures that are not severe may not require surgery. However, severe hand fractures will require surgery. After a hand fracture or after surgery for a hand fracture, your hand will be “set” so that it is in the correct position for optimal healing. Because it is set in place to heal, it will become stiff. This is where hand therapy comes into play. It will help you regain the movement and motion that you had prior to the injury and/or surgery.
Goals of Hand Therapy After Surgery For Hand Fracture
Your surgeon or hand therapist will guide you to complete your hand therapy in a safe way that allows you to regain mobility in your hand. Goals of hand therapy include:
- restore full movement and mobility in hand
- reduce pain
- lessen swelling
- keep scar tissue to a minimum
- regain strength in hand
What To Expect With Hand Therapy After Surgery
When three weeks after your surgery have passed, that is when you can expect hand therapy to begin. At this point, your hand is still delicate and healing, so therapy will be gentle and will not include stretching. Right now, hand therapy will only be focusing on increasing range of motion, reducing swelling and minimizing scar tissue. At this time you will also have your stitches out. If you are given a splint or home exercise program, be sure to follow your surgeon’s instructions for use.
After one month has passed, you can expect to have regained at least 50% of your normal capacity for range of motion with your hand. At this time you can also begin to reduce the amount of time you wear your splint, depending on your therapist’s recommendations.
Six weeks after your surgery you will most likely get to discontinue use of the splint for good. Your range of motion should be nearly completely restored at this point as well. If your swelling is still going down, do not be discouraged. This is normal.
At seven to eight weeks after your surgery, you will begin stretching if appropriate. Your hand therapist will let you know. He or she will also advise you whether or not you can return to normal activities, such as those that put more stress and pressure on your hand. From here your hand therapist may recommend a home therapy program to continue with your healing.
If you play sports, or if your job places high stress on your healing hand, you will want to wait until 10-12 weeks after your surgery to restart those activities.
Of course, different health and lifestyle factors play a part in healing and everyone is different, so your hand surgeon and hand therapist will guide you along the way and let you know what is right for you.
Now that you know more about hand therapy for hand fractures…
…you will be glad to know that Dr. Yorpur completed a fellowship in surgery of the hand with the Division of Hand Surgery at Maricopa Integrated Health System in Phoenix and is able to help evaluate, diagnose, and treat hand fractures. For hand injuries, same-day appointments may be available. Contact us today.