Frequently Asked Questions

We get lots of mail and always want to answer your inquiries. That’s why our staff has created this mini FAQ page for the most commonly asked questions. Just click on any question to display the answer inline on the page.

After Surgery

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Where do I follow-up after surgery?

Follow-up where you were originally seen at The Hand Care Center Centennial, Seven Springs Orthopaedics Spring Hill, Seven Springs OrthopaedicsBrentwood, or Dickson Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine.

Call or email for an appointment typically 1 1/2 wks after surgery unless otherwise specified at the time of surgery. Be sure to let the staff know you had surgery.

See you in clinic and please call if you are have problems.

Are my dressings too tight?

Possibly. The dressings should be snug but if really incomfortable then we recommend removing the ACE wrap and reapplying looser. Don’t be alarmed if you see swelling in the hand/fingers or extremity. This is normal after surgery when there is a dressing placed with an ACE compression wrap.

When may I return to work?

It depends on what you do for work and your type of surgery. We want you to get back to work ASAP.

Most carpal tunnel releases may return to work right away even if you are doing a lot of typing. However, if you had knee surgery and your work requires long periods of standing then you may need to be off work for 4-6 weeks.

Many times, we can send you back to work with limitations to avoid excessive pain at work. If you need notes for work we would be happy to fax them.

Don’t forget that you should not drive while on narcotics.

My sling is uncomfortable, may I remove it?

Yes, Remove your sling to re-adjust the straps. Get familiar with how the sling works. You should remove the sling for showers, moving the elbow so it doesn’t get stiff, and to take a break from the sling.

If you are looking for a neck pad for the neck strap, use an automotive seatbelt pad found at autoparts stores.

Seat Belt PadSeat Belt Pad



I had a shoulder rotator cuff repair. What are my restrictions?

Why did you not talk to me after surgery?

Most of the time I don’t converse with patients directly after surgery because you won’t remember the conversation. Blame that on anesthesia. Anesthetics have powerful amnestic capabilities that make it pointless to having an in-depth conversation. Don’t worry though, we can have a discussion when you come back to see me in the office. I also routinely try to let family know what happened during the surgery immediately after the operation. I can’t comment if they might have amnesia too.

What activities may I do after surgery?

Simply put, “If it hurts don’t do it.” It is okay to start moving and using the surgical extremity. If you have a splint or cast, the splint or cast will limit the motion necessary to protect the bone or joints. Start off slowly and listen to your body. Again, motion is good and starting to move those sore joints will help to recover faster.

Patients that have had knee surgery including most lower extremity surgeries may start weightbearing unless stated otherwise after surgery. If unable to fully weight bear then using crutches, walkers, canes, and/or wheelchair is recommended.

Regarding work activities, the above still holds true, “If it hurts don’t do it.” For example, if you had surgery on your hand and typing feels okay, go for it.

Do I have to have my sutures out and when?

Yes and no, if the suture is black it is nylon material and this suture needs to be removed in the office. A white stitch is sometimes used which will dissolve. Many times especially for carpal tunnel releases we use a glue to close the wound. That glue eventually degrades. Stitches are usually taken out between 1.5 – 2.0 weeks from surgery.

Do I have an infection?

It is usually rare to see post operative infections. Signs of infection are:

  • Increasing pain
  • Increasing redness
  • Drainage at the wound site which worsens
  • Swelling increases

Normal surgical wounds have a component of the above due to the normal healing response but an infection really demonstrates a dramatic increase in the signs listed above. It really hurts! Call us immediately and/or send us a picture from your phone if worried.

My pain is not controlled?

This is the number one question patients have after surgery and can be difficult. The following are techniques we use frequently to help control the post operative pain experience. Try some of the tips and tricks, if that doesn’t help call us.

  • Try common over the counter pain medications. To get the upper hand on pain, we often recommend you take 800 mg of Motrin (Ibuprofen) and add a Tylenol Extra Strength including the narcotics prescribed after surgery. Motrin (Ibuprofen) is relatively safe and is prescribed at 800mg three times a day. Motrin usually comes in 200 mg tablets over-the-counter. Tylenol (Acetominophen) can also help and can be combined with Motrin since it is a different type of drug. You should not take more than 4,000 mg of Tylenol within a 24 hr period. Remember that the narcotics we have prescribed usually has Tylenol in it so take that into account when adding up Tylenol.
  • Use old fashion remedies Heat/Ice. Ice can decrease swelling, pain and inflammation. Though not mandatory, try it, you might find it helpful. Don’t frostbite the skin so put a towel between ice and skin. If that isn’t working you might try heat. People always ask which is better heat or ice? I have no idea. When cold out try heat, if hot out try ice. Not enough science to answer that question. A nice warm shower sometimes goes a long way.
  • Jedi mind tricks. Get your mind off the pain. Turn on the TV, put on a movie, surf the net. Get your mind preoccupied with something else.
  • Elevation may help decrease swelling. You don’t need to take this to the extreme. It sometimes is more uncomfortable trying to keep your hand raised. Usually we tell patients to elevate the extremity but in a comfortable position. Comfortable position is priority.

May I take my splint off?

No, if you wake up after surgery and notice a hard splint on the extremity we usually recommend you keep it on. Keep it dry and clean.

When may I remove my dressings?

There is no set rule on this but we usually have patients take their dressings off in 2 days. Washing the wound after removal of the dressings with soap and water is recommended. Bacteria hate soap and water! reapply a soft comfortable dressing to keep the wound clean. When in doubt, wash the wound.

Do I need to elevate my surgical extremity?

Yes and No, Elevation can be helpful with swelling but frankly the extremity is going to swell no matter what position it is placed. You just had surgery and things swell. Try to elevate above heart level, but if it is uncomfortable place the extremity in the position that is least painful. If below heart level we won’t tell. Good luck!

I don’t have an appointment after surgery?

No problem, most often I have you call the office for an appointment. Make it convenient for your schedule. We just like to see you back in the office in 1 ½ wks to confirm no complications with your surgery.