Needle Aponeurotomy for Dupuytren's Contracture: What to Expect at Home

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Your Recovery

You have had a needle aponeurotomy to straighten bent fingers caused by Dupuytren's (say "duh-pwee-TRAHNZ") disease.

Your hand and fingers may be swollen and sore for the first few days. You may feel tingling in the area for 1 or 2 days.

It will probably take about 1 to 2 weeks for your hand to heal. How soon you can return to work depends on your job. If you can do your job without using your hand or with light use, such as working at a computer, you may be able to go back in 1 to 2 days. But if your job requires you to use a lot of hand strength, to grip things tightly, or to get your hands dirty, you may need to take about 1 to 3 weeks off work.

Most people don't need any hand therapy after the procedure. You may have to wear a splint or brace at night for a few months.

This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for you to recover. But each person recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to feel better as quickly as possible.

How can you care for yourself at home?

Activity

  • You may shower and your hand may get wet. But don't go swimming, use a hot tub, or put your hand underwater for 2 days.
  • You can use your hand for light activity such as eating and dressing.
  • Don't use your hand for 1 to 2 weeks for any activity where you need a lot of hand strength or a strong grip. This includes using power or gardening tools and riding a bike or golfing.

Bandage care

  • You may have several bandages on your hand and a larger bandage covering these. Your doctor will tell you how to take care of this.

Exercise

  • Gently bend and straighten your fingers throughout the day to keep them flexible and to help reduce swelling.
  • If your doctor suggested hand therapy, do it as directed by your doctor or your physiotherapist or occupational therapist. This can help you regain flexibility and strength in your hand and fingers. To get the best results, you need to do the exercises correctly and as often and as long as your doctor or therapist tells you to.

Ice and elevation

  • Prop up the sore hand on a pillow when you ice it or anytime you sit or lie down during the next 3 days. Try to keep it above the level of your heart. This will help reduce swelling.

Medicine

  • Your doctor will tell you if and when you can restart your medicines. He or she will also give you instructions about taking any new medicines.
  • If you take blood thinners, such as warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel (Plavix), or aspirin, be sure to talk to your doctor. He or she will tell you if and when to start taking those medicines again. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.

Other instructions

  • If you have a splint, follow your doctor's directions for wearing it.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the incision.
    • Pus draining from the incision.
    • Swollen lymph nodes in your neck, armpits, or groin.
    • A fever.
  • Your hand or fingers are cool or pale or change colour.
  • You have tingling or numbness in your hand or fingers.
  • You cannot move your fingers.

Watch closely for any changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if you have any problems.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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