How Long Does Recovery for Scaphoid Surgery Last?

Since it's a non-weight-bearing joint, the wrist is more susceptible to injuries and can result in scaphoid fractures that require surgery. Most wrist surgeries are performed using the minimally-invasive arthroscopic method, which allows patients to return home on the same day as their intervention. 

During the first phase of recovery, patients will be required to wear a cast or splint to immobilize the wrist. Doctors will prescribe strong medication to alleviate pain for up to 2 weeks, although caution is advised to avoid developing a habit. 

The sutures are usually removed after 10-14 days, and doctors perform a follow-up examination to ensure that the scaphoid is healing correctly. On average, it takes about 6 weeks before the cast/splint can be removed and replaced with an easily removable brace. 

Joint stiffness and weakness are not uncommon after removing the cast, and surgeons will recommend physical therapy to gradually improve muscle strength and the wrist's range of motion. Patients should follow recommendations to prevent re-injury and avoid:

  • Lifting, pulling, pushing, or carrying heavy objects
  • Using heavy or vibrating machinery (like jackhammers)
  • Using the injured arm to throw
  • Taking part in contact sports
  • Taking part in activities that can lead to falling on the wrist (like skating or skiing)
  • Climbing trees or ladders

Because the wrist isn't sufficiently vascularized, scaphoid fractures typically heal slower, and a full recovery can last as long as 6-9 months. However, most patients can return to routine non-strenuous activities as soon as 3 months. Not all fractures heal at the same rate, and some fractures may remain unresponsive after the first intervention requiring a second surgery to address failed bone unions.