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Pain and swelling increasing a week after surgery

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Old 05-22-2007, 12:58 PM   #1
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Pain and swelling increasing a week after surgery

Does anyone have any suggestions? I had surgery for carpal tunnel (open, not endoscopic) and cubital tunnel (subcutaneous move of the ulnar nerve) a week ago. I was placed in a splint from my palm to my bicep. I can't move or see my wrist or elbow.

Starting Sunday (its now Tuesday), the amount of swelling in my fingers has been increasing. The pain which had initially been decreasing until it was almost gone is increasing now too. Pain is at the incision sites, my fingers actually feel GOOD and don't tingle for the first time in a long time. The pain is a heavy ache, sometimes throbbing, sometimes with stinging.

If this continues I will call the doc tomorrow. But if I'm not doing something that would help I figured I could find that out here. I'm icing my elbow and wrist/hand regularly. I'm taking my pain med (Vicoden) as scheduled again, though I was almost eady to scale down to OTC meds on Saturday. I'm doing my finger exercises as i was told. I'm keeping my arm elevated to shoulder height on pillows. I'm not doing anything strenuous, mostly sitting in front of the TV, as the pain/swelling obviously increases when I do anything, even walk to the sidewalk to get the newspaper.

Does anybody have anything else I could be doing to decrease the pain and swelling? Thanks in advance!

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Old 05-22-2007, 10:54 PM   #2
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Minnesota
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Re: Pain and swelling increasing a week after surgery

See your doctor. I wish I would have demanded to see the ortho surgeon instead of doing what doc's nurse said and ER nurse said when I called about pain and swelling. They said pain and swelling were normal....but mine really wasn't normal. Swelling and hot needle poking feeling in hand despite icing and elevating.

Old 05-23-2007, 12:56 PM   #3
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Join Date: May 2007
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Re: Pain and swelling increasing a week after surgery

Well, it got worse - a lot worse - last night, felt like I had large ants walking up and down the incisions and biting them. So I did some ****** searches on my symptoms, and found a few people with the same symptoms who were actually allergic to their internal stitches. They reported that regular allergy medicine relieved the symptoms, so I tried Benedryl, and it worked! It took two pills, but the stinging/biting/scratching feeling went away.

I went to the doctor this morning, and they unwrapped my arm and examined my stitches and surrounding arm. Everything looks normal. He felt that if I were allergic to any of the suture material, that the incisions would look bad - they would have been red or puffy or something. But they were quite normal. But pain and itching that is not helped by painkillers but is helped by histamine blockers does often indicate an allergy of some kind.

It was the oncall partner I saw rather than my regular doc, and it turns out he had the same problem when he had cubital tunnel surgery a few years ago. So he was very sympathetic. While not "normal", it does sometimes happen.

They changed some things in my bandaging - gave me new antibacterial strips over the incisions and a stockinette between my arm and the padding, in case it was one of those that was causing it. He told me to keep up the Benedryl since it was helping, and he wrote me a prescription for stronger painkillers, as that was the only thing that helped him.

So, we'll see. I see my regular doc tomorrow to see about removing the sutures. Perhaps he'll have more to say on the subject.

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