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HSS Surgeon Shares Tips For Troublesome Wrists

Dr. Scott Wolfe of Hospital for Special Surgery.
Dr. Scott Wolfe of Hospital for Special Surgery. Photo Credit: Hospital for Special Surgery

STAMFORD, Conn. -- Following a wrist fracture, regaining functional use of the hand, wrist and upper extremity are of the utmost importance. In order to fast track the recovery process, there are several tips that can have your wrist flexing in no time.

Like any injury, elevating the hand can decrease swelling and should be maintained day and night. Patients should never keep their hand down by their side for a prolonged period of time; rather should keep it above heart level and let gravity do the work. A pillow to support in the lap when seated or when sleeping will ensure circulation reaches the recovering area. Patients can also use a sling for elevation when mobile, but be mindful that too much sling use can cause elbow and shoulder stiffness.

Beginning to mobilize fingers as soon as possible helps avoid stiffness. Along with icing the wrist, these two tactics can can help relieve pain and inflammation. The therapist will provide advice specific to the injury, but the general rule is to apply ice or cold gel packs three to five times a day for ten minutes at a time.

Attending physical therapy with a Certified Hand Therapist is also important when shortening recovery times. CHTs are physical or occupational therapists with a specialized certification, making them ideal for hand injuries. Patients should follow the therapist's and the surgeon’s recommendations for full activity. Be a patient patient and don’t rush it, and you’ll be back to full activity sooner than you think

Dr. Scott Wolfe is an orthopedic surgeon at Hospital for Special Surgery, specializing in orthopedic upper extremity care. He practices at both the HSS Outpatient Center in Stamford and the hospital’s main campus in New York.