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Elbow Surgery Recovery

March 03, 2021

elbow sling

Thanks to state-of-the-art elbow surgery, our orthopaedic surgeons have helped numerous people in the greater Austin, TX, area experience restored mobility. These surgical procedures can address fractured joints as well as bursitis and tennis elbow.

Prior to their procedure, many patients ask us what to do after elbow surgery to ensure a speedy, problem-free recovery. While exact instructions will vary based on the type of surgery performed, our team has a few general guidelines that will help elbow surgery patients heal properly in the weeks after their procedure.

What to Expect Immediately after Surgery

You will not be discharged following your elbow surgery until we've determined you're in suitable condition to leave our monitoring and care. A loved one will need to drive or escort you home after surgery to ensure you return home safely. You will not be able to operate a vehicle on your own until your elbow has healed sufficiently.

Initial Elbow Surgery Healing Advice

At this point, patients are instructed to avoid using their treated arm, and to avoid heavy lifting and strenuous physical exertion in order to promote proper healing. Patients should rest their arms and avoid unnecessary bending of the elbow, especially early on. Making a fist and moving your wrist and fingers may be encouraged to help promote circulation.

Pain and Discomfort after Elbow Surgery

Some discomfort after elbow surgery is to be expected, though the pain is usually dulled for several hours immediately following the surgery. Patients are instructed to take pain relievers as directed in order to control soreness of the arm and elbow.

Elevating Your Elbow after Surgery

Elevating your elbow after surgery is crucial for promoting circulation and preventing swelling. For the next three days or so after surgery, whenever you sit or lie down be sure to keep your elbow elevated on a pillow. Ideally, you should keep your elbow around the level of your heart.

Icing Your Elbow after Surgery

Icing the elbow can help reduce soreness as well as swelling. Cold compresses can be applied once every one to two hours for 10 to 20 minutes at a time.

How to Sleep while Recovering from Elbow Surgery

To prevent swelling in the hand and arm overnight, be sure to sleep on your back. Your arm should be propped up on a pillow or cushion throughout the night to keep it elevated and prevent fluid accumulation.

Physical Activity while Healing from Surgery

While strenuous exercise and heavy lifting should be avoided after your surgery, patients should walk to help promote circulation and stay active. You may be given some simple stretches to perform. Be sure to follow these post-operative instructions carefully so you do not put too much strain on your elbow while it heals.

Follow-up Visits with Your Surgeon

There will be several follow-up visits to Orthopaedic Specialists of Austin over the next few weeks. Attend these checkups as scheduled. This will allow our surgical team to assess your recovery and field any concerns that you may have. We can also modify aftercare instructions based on your recovery thus far.

What if I Have an Urgent Issue during My Recovery?

If you notice any adverse side effects such as excessive swelling or intense pain, it's important to get in touch with our team as soon as possible. We want to address any complications as soon as they arise to ensure your safety.

How Long Will the Recovery Process Take?

This varies from patient to patient depending on the surgery performed and their general wellness. Prior to surgery, we will provide you with a treatment timeline as part of the consultation process.

Contact Our Surgeons for More Information

If you have questions about healing and recovery, we're here to provide answers. For more information about elbow surgery and what to expect during the recovery process, we encourage you to contact our team of surgeons online or call Orthopaedic Specialists of Austin at (512) 476-2830.