Boutonniere Deformity: What to Expect at Home

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Your Recovery

Bent finger caused by a tendon tear

Surgery for a boutonniere deformity is done to repair a tendon in your finger so that you can move the finger more normally.

A boutonniere (say "boo-tuh-NEER") deformity is an injury to the tendon that runs over the middle joint of a finger. The injury causes the middle joint to bend down and the end joint to bend up.

"Boutonniere" is French for "buttonhole." The injury often causes an opening in the tendon that looks like a buttonhole.

After surgery, your finger may be sore for a few weeks and stiff for a few months. It may be in a splint to protect it as it heals. Wear the splint exactly as directed. Do not remove it until your doctor says that you can.

Your doctor may give you specific instructions on when you can do your normal activities again, such as driving and going back to work.

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 get better as quickly as possible.

How can you care for yourself at home?

Medicines

  • Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.

Incision care

  • You may wash your hands and shower after 2 or 3 days, if your doctor okays it. Pat the incision (the cut the doctor made) dry. Do not take a bath for the first 2 weeks, or until your doctor tells you it is okay.

Ice and elevation

  • Put ice or a cold pack on your hand for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Try to do this every 1 to 2 hours for the next 3 days (when you are awake) or until the swelling goes down. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin.
  • 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.

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 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You have chest pain, are short of breath, or you cough up blood.

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

  • You have pain that does not get better after you take pain medicine.
  • Your hand is cool or pale or changes colour.
  • Your cast or splint feels too tight.
  • You have tingling, weakness, or numbness in your hand or fingers.
  • You are sick to your stomach or cannot drink fluids.
  • You have loose stitches, or your incision comes open.
  • You have signs of a blood clot in your leg (called a deep vein thrombosis), such as:
    • Pain in your calf, back of the knee, thigh, or groin.
    • Redness or swelling in your leg.
  • You have signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the incision.
    • Pus draining from the incision.
    • A fever.
  • You bleed through your bandage.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • You have a problem with your cast or splint.
  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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

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