Post-operative Care
For the hand, wrist and elbow


Swelling after hand surgery near the affected site is natural and may persist for up to one week.

How to reduce swelling after surgery?

It is important to manage swelling to reduce pain and speed up the recovery process. You can do this by:

  • Keeping your hand above the level of your heart. Use an arm sling while walking around to maintain elevation, and use a pillow when you are sitting or lying down to prop up your arm. If lowering your arm does not cause it to throb, you can stop elevation.
  • Apply an ice pack, or put some ice cubes in a plastic bag, wrapped with a towel around the swollen areas for 20 minutes as often as possible, leaving at least an hour between each treatment.
  • Do the hand exercises listed below to decrease stiffness and swelling.

Wound Care and Dressing

Your wound site should remain clean and dry for two weeks after surgery. Each dressing may last up to a week if properly cared for. Should the dressing get wet, dirty or start to come loose, please return to our clinic or visit your nearest doctor to get the wound cleaned and redressed.

  • Use the supplied plastic bag covers to protect your dressing during showering. If these run out, you may use a regular plastic bag secured with two rubber bands to prevent leaking.
  • Check the circulation going to your fingers. It should be filling with blood and staying warm. If there are colour changes to blue or white with no pink, please contact us immediately.
  • If there are no further instructions, you are generally allowed to expose the healed wound to water during shower and while washing your hands after two weeks.

General Exercises (Hand Exercises After Surgery)

You are encouraged to move all your unaffected joints. For example, if your wrist is injured, move your shoulder and elbow to prevent joint stiffness. If you have a splint, the fingers and joints which are free are those which you should be trying to move as much as you can. If all your fingers are free, you may follow the below diagrams to gently exercise your fingers and thumb to reduce swelling and joint stiffness.


Some pain is part of the healing process after surgery. Here are ways to minimize your discomfort:

  • Reduce swelling by elevation, icing and finger mobilizations.
  • Take your pain medication as directed.
  • Rest and take it easy. Strenous activity can elevate heart rate and blood pressure and lead to increased swelling and discomfort.

If pain persists, please contact our clinic.

Numbness and Tingling

Numbness and tingling after surgery is common and due to the local anesthetics used during the procedure.

Possible Infection

Wound infections are rare, and usually happen less than a week after surgery. Please contact our clinic immediately if you experience excessive pain, swelling or redness around the wound.