What Does Recovery Following Wrist Arthroscopy Involve?

After the procedure has concluded, the surgeon closes the two minor incisions with stitches and applies a bandage to the operated area. Because arthroscopic surgery is minimally invasive, most patients are discharged on the same day as their intervention, except for cases of uncommon complications. 

The patient will likewise be prescribed painkillers for any discomfort he might experience during the healing, and in some cases, the use of a splint or sling may be required to keep the hand immobile. 

Recovery time is usually fast at around 6 weeks; however, this is dependent on the extent and type of injury. Tissue damage usually requires a longer healing time.   

Steps to a Full Recovery

During the first days of recovery, patients will experience swelling around the operated area and may notice a skin discoloration. These are common symptoms and will go away on their own in a few days. 

To reduce swelling and pain, it's recommended to follow the RICE protocol (rest, ice, compression, elevation), with particular emphasis on maintaining the hand higher than the heart level. If the prescribed pain medication causes the patient discomfort, he should ask his physician for a more effective substitute.  

The surgical incisions need to be covered, and the bandages kept clean, dry, and intact. Surgical dressings are usually removed 48–72 hours after the procedure and replaced with a waterproof covering. Bathing or soaking should be avoided until the incisions are fully healed. 

The rehabilitation process involves exercises recommended by a therapist to regain: 

  • wrist strength
  • range of motion 
  • gripping
  • pinching 

During this period, patients should refrain from activities that involve pushing, lifting, twisting, or pulling movements. By closely and patiently following the therapist’s advice and rehab regimen athletes can expect to return to the game quicker than in the case of open hand surgery.