Post-operative Hand Therapy
After a successful hand surgery, your orthopaedic surgeon recommends hand therapy to speed up the healing process. Hand therapy makes your rehabilitation process smooth and complication-free. When you step into the rehab process, a certified hand therapist will guide you through the journey, they also provide expert rehabilitation guidance for your upper limb.
Just after Hand surgery, your surgeon will check the progress and then consult with a therapist to make a customized rehabilitation program for you. The post-operative hand therapy includes wrist, finger, thumb, and hand; they focus more on the injury repair, tendon and nerve repair, followed by healing of soft tissue injuries due to surgery.
Generally, in the hospital orthopaedic surgeons collaborate with the certified hand therapist and physical therapist to streamline the whole rehabilitation process after surgery. They design a rehab program that aims to get their patients back to normal life.
Your early post-operative rehabilitation training consists of analysing and dressing of surgical incision, and assessing the condition of the wound, then safely eliminating the post-surgical stitches, next is wound care and pain management, fabrication of thermoplastic splints, and then finally movement exercise to improve range of motion.
Next, when your wound completely heals, the therapist prepares a customized advanced rehab program that includes Scar management, grip strengthening and stretching exercises, a pain healing program, desensitization, and regular assessment.
In this phase, the therapist focuses on building hand strength, as well as restoring the range of motion after hand surgery. By performing simple hand stretching exercises patients gradually regain their hand strength, and flexibility. In these cases, your therapist provides you with how to do all these exercises correctly
In this article, we’ll talk about a few post-operative hand therapies exercises effective to regain your hand strength and range of motion as well.
1.Make a Fist
It is a hand and finger exercise that is good for strengthening and increasing the range of motion, even after some sort of practice you’ll get relief from pain. Here you just have to stretch the hand unit that you feel rigid. If you’re in the correct recovery phase, you won’t feel the pain.
So, let’s do this simple hand stretching exercise:
- Make a gentle fist by wrapping your thumb across the fingers
- Hold this for at least 60 seconds, then slowly release and spread your fingers at wide-angle
- Do this with both hands, repeat 4 times each hand.
However, if you feel more pain after doing this exercise, stop this immediately and consult your therapist for further advice.
2. Finger stretch
This stretching exercise is specially designed to relieve your hand from post-operative pain and improve the range of motion of your fingers.
- Place your hand on the table, palm facing down on the table
- Then gently stretch your fingers as flat as possible against the smooth surface without putting pressure on your joints
- Hold this for a minimum of 30 seconds to a maximum of 60 seconds, and then gradually release
- Repeat 4-5 times with each hand.
3. Grip strengthening exercise
- This exercise is specifically designed to strengthen your holding ability after surgery, it will help you to perform regular activities like unled the jar, opening the doorknob etc without much discomfort
- Hold a squeeze ball in your palm, then squeeze as hard as you can
- Hold the ball for a few seconds then release gradually
- This exercise is undoubtedly an excellent way to strengthen your forearm muscles after surgery, but here you need to ask your therapist about it, also please ensure that how many repetitions are required during the rehabilitation period.
- Please don’t perform this exercise if your thumb joint is damaged.
This exercise is meant to strengthen the muscles of the thumb and fingers. Finger strength is essential to unscrew any hard object, open the key, and hold any heavy object more tightly.
How to do it:
- Take a foam ball or rubber ball, or putty between your fingertips and your thumb, and hold it for 30-60 seconds
- Repeat it 10-15 times with both of your hands. Perform this hand exercise 2-3 times a week, however, don’t forget to rest your hands for 48 hours in between two sessions. However, it is strictly prohibited if your thumb joint is broken.
It is intended to strengthen your thumb muscles so that patients can lift a heavy object such as water bottles or a tiffin can.
Let’s see how to do this:
- Keep our hand flat on the table, then take a rubber band and wrap it around your hand at the base of your finger joints
- Then slowly move your thumb away from your fingers as much as you can
- Hold this position for a fewseconds ( as much as you’re comfortable), then relax.
- Repeat this exercise when you get time in a day,However, don’t forget to give a rest in between two practice sessions/
All of the above exercises are designed to speed up the post-operative healing process. However, You should talk with your orthopedic surgeon before doing any type of hand stretching exercise after surgery. If you feel pain after doing any form of exercise then stop immediately and seek help from your therapist. The best way to approach post-operative exercise is to start with very low intensity and gradually increase the resistance of the hand stretching to make your hand muscle stronger and more flexible.