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Rehabilitation Timeline After Finger Joint Replacement Surgery

Rehabilitation after finger joint replacement surgery is an important part of the recovery process. By following a program established for you by your surgeon and health care team, you can regain function and resume your daily activities as soon as possible.

After Your Finger Joint Replacement Surgery

After you have undergone general finger joint replacement surgery, your hand will be put in a fairly strong dressing.

The dressing will cover the finger or fingers that had surgery, as well as the hand and wrist. Your surgeon will ask you to keep the hand above your heart at all times during the first few days after the surgery to minimize swelling.

You will be given a prescription for pain medicine and you may need to take antibiotics if your surgeon thinks you are at risk of infection.

After You Leave the Hospital

Your first dressing will be taken off after several days and a lighter dressing will be placed on your hand. Stitches are usually removed around 10 days to two weeks after the operation.

The decision about when you can begin moving your fingers depends on your surgeon, the type of joint replacement you were given, as well as other factors your surgeon will discuss with you.

Although sometimes a patient can start doing motion exercises within a few days of general finger joint replacement surgery, your surgeon may ask you to wait two or three weeks so that your fingers heal.

A therapist will usually create what is called a "supportive finger splint" for you to use in the day and night. The therapist will also advise you on a few exercises you can do while you are in this stage after the operation.

Therapy Goals

The goal of therapy will be to achieve a good range of upward and downward motion of the replaced joint while maintaining stability against excessive side-to-side motion.

Sticking to the rehabilitation program that your health care team has designed for you will be essential to the success of your progress.

At Six to 12 Weeks

You may be able to have the splint off during the day but you will need to sleep with your splint on at night.

Within Eight to 12 Weeks

The goal is that you should be able to return to your normal daily activities without splints and with a reasonable range of motion and minimal discomfort.

Although sometimes a patient can start doing motion exercises within a few days of general finger joint replacement surgery, your surgeon may ask you to wait two or three weeks so that your fingers heal.

A therapist will usually create what is called a “supportive finger splint” for you to use in the day and night. The therapist will also advise you on a few exercises you can do while you are in this stage after the operation.

Last Updated: 10/16/2007