For fractures treated with K wires a plaster cast is required for 6 weeks. You will be reviewed in clinic a week after your operation. This is to inspect the small wounds created to allow the wires to enter the bone through the skin. You will also have your preliminary cast (backslap) changed to a full cast. For fractures treated with internal fixation such as a plate you are likely to remain in a bulky soft bandage for 2 weeks. You will then be reviewed in clinic for a wound check and physiotherapy commenced from 2 weeks. It is occasionally necessary to keep you in a plaster after a plate fixation and this is likely to be for a period of between 2-4 weeks.
RETURN TO WORK
This is dependent on the operation and the nature of your work. This will be discussed with you during your consultation.
Driving is only really possible once you are out of cast and even then it can take a couple of weeks out of cast before you can drive comfortably.
Like with any surgery there are a number of small risks associated with this operation.
Infection (1%) is a risk with all surgery. In the majority of cases these are infections around the wound and can be treated with a course of antibiotics. The more unusual deep-seated infections however can require admission to hospital and surgery to clean the wound out if necessary.
Swelling and Stiffness can remain for many months following surgery. It is important to elevate the limb and keep all joints that are not immobilised with a splint, active.
Fracture not healing (non-union) although most fractures will go on to heal, there is a risk that the fracture may not heal and may require further surgery.
Scar Sensitivity is often a problem with surgery in the hand, particularly the palm. This is often self-limiting and daily massage of the scar can shorten the duration of the symptoms. The sensitivity does settle is all cases with time.
Nerve Injury is a potential but very rare risk with this surgery. Often the nerves at greatest risk are the tiny nerves supplying skin in the area of the wound and cutting through these may result in an area of numbness that is not often troublesome.
Complex Regional Pain Syndrome is an extremely rare (1%) complication that can follow any injury or surgery to a limb. In this situation the nerves in the arm over-react to the point where the hand becomes very painful, swollen and sensitive. This condition does improve with time but can be problematic for many months (see section on Complex Regional Pain Syndrome).