The first 48 hours
After a short stay in the theatre recovery area you will return to the ward. When you come back from the operation your wrist will usually be rested in a plaster cast to keep the wrist immobilised and it will require elevation in a Bradford sling to help reduce the swelling.
Many patients worry about how painful wrist manipulation will be and all staff understand this. It is usual to experience some discomfort and the staff will give you painkillers when you need them to help keep you comfortable. Everyone feels differently and it is important that you tell the nurses if you are in pain.
Getting up and about
You will be allowed up 4 – 6 hours after your operation with your arm elevated in a Bradford sling. Your physiotherapist will teach you appropriate exercises. It is important to exercise the shoulder, finger and elbow joints to prevent joint stiffness and muscle wastage.
What problems can occur?
No operation is without the risk of complications. Your surgeon and therapist will explain any particular risks/complications of your operation before surgery.
Swelling is common after surgery and might be treated by elevation.
Is the operation always successful?
The surgeon’s expectations of your operation will be discussed before surgery (usually when initially seen in Outpatients) so that you understand the likely result, and the risks/benefits of the proposed operation. This information must be taken into account when you make the decision to undergo surgery.
Your length of stay in hospital will vary depending on the swelling at the operation site and on your individual circumstances. Once you are moving around safely on your own, you will be discharged home.
Planning for going home begins as soon as you arrive in hospital. If you have any fears or concerns regarding your discharge please discuss these with your named nurse.
Your named nurse will ask you and your carers about your social circumstances, this is just to ensure that you will be able to manage certain tasks when you go home such as washing, dressing and cooking.
If your named nurse feels you and your carer will require extra support she will discuss this with you and with your permission will arrange for you to talk with the hospital social worker and Occupational Therapist.
If you live in the Newcastle area then you will be assessed by the Orthopaedic Discharge Team who will assess your suitability for the service, which provides a two week supported discharge with nurse, physiotherapy and occupational therapy involvement.
Please discuss your transport arrangements home with your named nurse before your day of discharge. It is possible in some instances to organise hospital transport, if required.
The day of discharge
On the day of your discharge your named nurse will give you some things to take home, these will include:
A letter for your GP (in some instances this will be posted) This should be handed in to your GP by either a relative or friend on the next working day following your discharge.
Medication Any medication you have brought into hospital will be returned to you. You will also be given a 7-day supply of any new medications. The nurse will advise you on how and when to take these.
Outpatient Clinic Appointment You will be given an appointment to be reviewed in clinic. If transport is required this will be arranged by the ward clerk when making the appointment. If for any reason you are unable to attend your appointment please contact the outpatient department to rearrange the appointment.
Care Plan If you have a care package arranged you will receive a copy of the care plan from the Social Worker before your discharge home. This is for your own information.
Discharge Record This provides details about your stay and is for your own information.
Plaster Instruction The nursing staff will provide you with instructions on how to care for your plaster once you are at home.
Patient information Please take home any written information given to you during your stay and please do not hesitate to use the contact numbers if you require any further advice.
Valuables Please ensure you have all your valuables with you.
General advice after discharge
Exercises Your physiotherapist will explain the exercises you should do following your discharge.
Cars and Driving It is inadvisable to drive while wearing a cast, splint or restrictive bandage. Always check with your insurance company before starting to drive again. It is not the responsibility of your consultant to make this decision. He will advise when he feels driving will cause you no harm.
Work How soon you are able to return to work will depend on the type of job you do. You should discuss this with your surgeon when you see him in the Outpatient Department.
Pain Take your painkillers as prescribed. Do not take more than the stated dose. Contact your doctor if you have any pain or swelling in your calf or if you have any chest pain. Ache in the wrist on heavy activity and in cold conditions is normal after a wrist fracture for 18 – 24 months.
You will be followed up as an outpatient at regular intervals after your discharge from hospital. Please use this opportunity to ask questions and discuss any concerns you may have. You are also welcome to call the ward for advice, following your discharge from hospital.