Close-up on person with stiffener on broken leg during rehabilitation with physiotherapist

General Instructions

Your recovery at home

It is important to follow our instructions carefully after you return home.  You should ask someone to check on you that evening. 

Swelling. Keep your operative extremity elevated above the level of your heart as much as possible for the first few days after surgery.  Apply ice as needed to relieve swelling and pain.  Icing for 20 minutes each hour is good for pain control and management of post-operative swelling. 

Dressing care. You will leave the hospital or surgery center with a dressing covering your operative site.  You may remove the dressing two days after surgery and should cover your incisions with waterproof band-aids.  You may shower, but should avoid directing water at the incisions.  Do not soak in a tub.  Some drainage from the wounds in the first 48-72 hours is normal.  If drainage is excessive you may change the dressings with sterile gauze. It is very important to keep your incisions clean and dry.

If you have a post-operative splint, keep it clean and dry until your follow up appointment. If it gets wet or soiled, please call the office.

We will see you in the office 1 week after surgery to check your progress, review the surgical findings, remove the sutures, and begin your postoperative treatment program.

Pain Control. You will be given a prescription for pain control when being discharged from the surgical center.  It is best to begin taking the pain medication as soon as possible upon returning home.  Take as directed on the bottle.

Activity. Follow the instructions given at your preoperative visit. At the first post op visit, we will discuss all restrictions and precautions in detail.  Depending on the type of surgery performed, you may begin outpatient physical therapy after your first post-operative visit. 

Possible Complications

Infection occurs in less than 1% of patients after surgical procedures.  However, it can be a potentially serious complication and should be monitored closely.  Signs and symptoms of infection include redness around the surgical wounds, persistent drainage more than 48-72 hours after surgery, and fever greater than 101 degrees taken with an oral thermometer. “Feeling warm” does not necessarily mean that you have a fever. You must take your temperature with an oral thermometer.

If you feel that you may be having a problem postoperatively relating to surgery, you should call our office immediately. Problems that are caught early can be corrected more easily than those recognized later. 

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