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Old 01-26-2013, 09:03 PM   #2
MountainReader MountainReader is offline
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Re: Ulnar Shortening Surgery... how long is recovery?

Hi tishaboo,

There are a couple of us on here who have had ulnar shortening osteotomies done this year. Our postings are on the bone board. My surgery was last February. I'm right handed and my surgery was on that wrist. Had to learn to do things differently.

Healing from an ulnar shortening is the same as healing up from a broken bone. Usually about 6 weeks.

I was off work for 2 weeks. I had the splint/cast for 2 weeks to allow for the swelling to go down. Once I got my fiberglass cast, my surgeon allowed me to go back to work with some obvious restrictions. I started PT a couple days after I got released from wearing the casts. I recommend seeing a certified hand therapist.

My bone healed up well. My surgeon had hoped the surgery would take care of my ulnar sided pain. Unfortunately, I ended up needing to go back for a second surgery and they did the arthroscopic cleaning up then. I also ended up getting my plate removed at that time. I'm in PT now and have pretty much normal ROM and I'm getting nearer to normal for pronation and supination. I was just released to work on my strength more so I'm excited.

A couple things I learned:

*As long as the scar is pink on the outside and healing, you are still healing on the inside also.
*Ulnar inflammation takes a while to heal. It isn't good to "work through the pain" with ulnar inflammation. It is better to take things slower.
*Most PT for the first weeks revolves around working on the scar tissue and stretching. The exercises come gradually. Mostly they will just recommend adding more daily use of the wrist. PT doesn't hurt a lot. When it hurts, they stop. I started PT 2 times a week, then went to once a week. It takes as long as it takes. I understand that it does take a bit more PT from this surgery than from some other broken bones.
*I was more worried about repeat injury to my wrist than my surgeons were.

As for the pain killers, I used them regularly for a few days. I then weaned back off them. My surgeon asked if I wanted a refill. I initially said no. Then when they put the permenant cast on I realized I might need to take a few more. It took me a couple days to adjust to it.

Make sure you are constantly keeping your wrist elevated well above the heart for several days. I got really good at propping up on some pillows to help.

I also found that keeping bags of crushed ice on the splint or cast. I put a new bag on every hour or so for the first while. If you keep it on long enough, the cold does go through the splint/cast and helps with the pain and swelling. I actually continued to do this on and off for several weeks when things started hurting some.

As for the arthroscopic surgery, it appears to be much easier to heal from. I didn't have a tear repaired though. If you repaired a tear, it may be 6-8 weeks before you can start PT with it as well.

This may be TMI, but I'm going to offer it up anyway. If you are regularly taking pain meds, I recommend taking something for constipation. According to my doctor, the pain meds will "stop you like Hoover Dam". He was right. My surgeon prescribed Dulcolax and it didn't work at all. I called my GI doc and he recommended taking a double dose of Miralax until I was good, then going to a single dose while I was on the meds.

I found a great Cast Shield on the internet that allowed me to shower even with the splint on. It was made of latex and rolled up over my splint or cast and up my arm. It stayed in place by itself and even with daily use I never had a drop of water get in. I had to replace it every week or so when it started stretching out, but it was well worth it. I was easily able to use it one handed and I felt so much better being able to shower and clean regularly by myself. Sponge baths just aren't the same.

As a female, a good front hook bra is doable with one-hand when you are ready. They are just a bit hard to find. I know I felt better when I was able to dress a bit more normally. Most people don't talk about things like that, but I thought I'd offer that up.

I know this is a long answer, but I hope it helps. My story has been a bit atypical, but as of now, I'd say I'm pretty happy with my progress.

Wishing you well in your healing.
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Asthma, Allergies, severe LPR/GERD, TMJD, Hearing Loss, Ulnar Impaction Syndrome, Shoulder Impingement, Plantar Fasciitis, DeQuervains, Hypermobility, possible Ehlers Danlos Syndrome

Last edited by MountainReader; 01-26-2013 at 09:13 PM. Reason: Added information