Post-Operative Instructions

You will receive these on discharge from the hospital/surgery center. Please read these instructions very carefully and keep them handy. Everything you need to know is here. Reading carefully will save you time on the phone with our office to ask these same questions. After hours, the only calls the answering service will forward to your doctor will be those listed under “Contact Dr. Purdy” events.

Contact Dr. Purdy (off hours included) – for the following events:

    a. Circulation Problems = the fingers present color changes to blue or white with no pink

    b. Excessive bleeding = bright red blood keeps coming out of the dressing

    c. Tight Dressing = Dressings can become tight from swelling underneath. If this happens, elevate the limb above your heart for 30 minutes. If no relief, call our office immediately

Call this office during office hours – for the following: Questions about your medications, your next appointment, your post-operative restrictions, other general questions

Call your regular internal medicine doctor – if any other medical condition you have such as heart or lung problems seem to get worse in the period after your surgery

Call 911 – if you have a sudden crisis that has to do with anything other than your arm during the period after your surgery such as symptoms of a heart attack or other serious event

Medication – You have been given enough pain pills including the refill to cover you beyond the next office visit. To control various symptoms do the following:

    a. Nausea – drink light liquids and try soft foods. If the nausea or vomiting persists, call your doctor to have an anti-nausea medication prescribed

    b. Itching – Itching is a common side effect from pain medications and over the counter Benadryl is still the best medication you can take for this

Controlling Your Pain - You are going to have pain, you can count on it

Here’s what you can do to minimize it:

    a. Keep the operated area higher than your heart at all times. If the elbow was operated on, keep the elbow above the heart, and the hand above the elbow (otherwise fingers become very swollen)

    b. Take your pain pills as needed and as directed

    c. Rest and take it easy, if you are running all around, you will create more pain for yourself

Taking care of your dressing – Don’t mess with your dressing unless you were specifically told to do something by your doctor. Keep it dry. During bathing cover it with a plastic bag and keep the extremity elevated, letting water run away from the dressing. No seal (rubber bands, tape, etc.) will successfully keep water out!

Moving your arm and hand – you will be told what joints not to move. If there is a splint, then the ones not to move are covered by the splint. All other joints not involved in the surgery should be moved to their full capacity every single day to prevent them from getting stiff. If your fingers are free, they are the most important ones to move (see the diagram on the back of this packet and do each of those six positions multiple times every day). Shoulders also tend to get stiff, so regularly move your shoulder through a full range.

Eating after surgery – Start slowly and eat lightly. Anesthetics and pain medications change the way your digestive system works. If you had an anesthesia tube in the throat, you may be hoarse, have a sore throat, and even spit up small amounts of blood.