My question is to others who have had problems with swelling and stiffness in their hand after rotator cuff surgery. I'm 7 weeks post-op from rotator cuff surgery (shoulder "reconstruction" - human graft and 7 large anchor screws - to repair a large hole where the tendon should be) and I am curious as to whether anyone whose been through this can tell me "when" their pain, swelling and stiffness finally subsided in their hand? My wrist, hand and fingers continue to swell and now hurt so bad that I can't sleep at night and my fingers are so swollen they feel like they're going to pop. They began to swell around 2 weeks post-op and have progressively gotten worse. I noticed no one as far as 4 months post-op has complained. Does that mean it starts to improve after several months? I'm trying to be patient, but its hard when your hand is in so much pain you can't even sleep at night. And its my "right" hand, at that! A week after surgery I was able to cut with a knife, squeeze a ball or write out my checks (when paying bills). But now I can't even hold a pen, let alone squeeze anything or make a fist. My fingers are so swollen they can't bend! My shoulder seems to be healing nicely. But I do have neck issues, too, so I'm wondering if that's contributing to the swelling or if the hand swelling is just from the fluid from the surgery. Don't know if the exercises are helping or irritating it. Tried elevating it, icing it, soaking in epsom salt baths, etc. But nothing seems to help. Any other suggestions would be appreciated. But mostly I'd love to hear from someone whose actually experienced this and has recovered from it, as I'm dying to know "how long" it took for the swelling to go down and what they found helped reduce the swelling - or was it just "time"?
Very sorry you're still in such pain. Despite the fact you have had extensive rotator cuff surgery, I do not believe you should have as much swelling & pain in your hand and fingers at 7 weeks post Op.
Is your orthopedic doctor or physical therapist aware of your current condition?
It's quite possible you could have a pinched nerve in either your neck or elbow.
Also, are you able to take NSAIDs to help with the pain and inflammation? If you are able to take them, I would suggest taking an OTC NSAID such as Aleve or Ibuprofen.
In addition, I would recommend calling your orthopedic surgeon first thing in the morning.
Lastly, even though you haven't seen or had any pain relief, I would continue to ice & elevate your shoulder and hand. It's possible it could be helping just a little. Try icing 20 minutes on 40 minutes off.
I hope you feel better soon!
I had reconstructive surgery Nov.16 2018,on my right shoulder also with a human graft.When I woke up from surgery,the top of my right hand hurt really bad.I thought I had an i.v.in it,but there was none.It continued to hurt me & getting worse for 2 months,then the swelling started & my joints in my fingers started hurting me really bad.It is March 20 now & continuing to get worse.They r also swell laying down in bed also makes the hand on top & on the palm swell along with my fingers,where making a fist is impossible.My hand & fingers also burn inside.I too used ice but it does not help,I can no longer wear my opal ring on my finger,wore it for 18 years.Saw a orthopedic hand dr,he said it was tendonitis.I told him I was fine when I went into surgery.When I got th o see my surgeon,I ask her what happened.She said about fluid & the lymph nodes.Like u I'm right handed,needed my arm & I most certainly need my hand.She told me to come back in May of he ...
continues to get worse.If it is lymphedema,there is no cure for that.Thinking of u,I totally understand,how ur feeling.
I had left rotator cup surgery February 2019 soon after surgery both hands and forearms are swollen the opposite side right side is the one that’s giving me more problems they fall asleep I’ve been to a hand Doctor No carpal tunnel I don’t know what’s going on has anybody experience this
I am 9 wks. post op. full rotator replace. R. hand is swollen and thumb is in pain most of the time, at times, extreme. Only a little finger activity, no fist. Dr. says he has never had this happen but will most likely heel in time. Possibly a year? Last 3 days have been worse than the last 3 weeks. Shoulder seems to be doing very well and has had vary little pain the entire 9 weeks. I have read and heard that the spinal tap that was in my neck for this surgery may hold the answer. Also ,most of the muscle mass on my R. arm has disappeared. Could say much more but L. hand has taken 35 min. thus far. Thanks for any suggestions. O has anyone tried laser therapy for this?
I am answering because your letter is exactly my situation except my surgery was carpal tunnel. Everything you describe is as if it were my case. Surgery was 7 weeks ago.
Edema was not present until 2 weeks post op. Dominant (right) hand affected. Stabbing pains in hand/thumb now moved to wrist. Called the surgeon--medical asst returns call "it's all normal". The right hand resembles an embalmed hand--- no wrinkles--as a quick measure. Other medical opinions--"this is not normal". Called surgeon to write order for CHT hand therapist--"We usually do not use hand therapy for carpal tunnel post op." The order was then written for hand therapy.
The Certified Hand Therapists are all very well trained and specific in methodology/ exercises to be done at home. I have been in hand therapy for 2 weeks 2x each week. It is painful and I "yelp" occasionally. They measure inflammation --ROM and degrees of digit bend and they recommend now 3x per week as the fingers must move. I try to manage with exercise, visualization, tried a steroid pack, NSAIDS, hydrotherapy, sauna. Excuse the typing --- with left hand--as you know.
So, what is the cause/etiology? Post op--we both can write checks, etc--- no edema or numbness. On or about 2 weeks post op biochemical/inflammatory response kicks in--edema, numbness and pain. I drew a timeline in the surgeons office--variables as above. Surgery was Dec 4 2019--- can I expect pain to be markedly decreased by end of Jan?Yes.
Inflammation by end Feb? Yes. Numbness end March/April? Yes.
Make 85% fist/ROM by one year? Yes. He felt my timeline guess was fairly accurate in his experience.
The difference, in my estimation, between our cases and the other very complicated cases on this site, is my CTS was a 7 minute, 2 stitch surgery. What kind of distal inflammatory response are we all experiencing? Surgeon answers are: patience, time, the nervous system is complicated--one inch regrowth/month.
Increased oxygenation, hyperbaric treatment a possibility? Has anyone tried this?Perhaps someone out there has tried other modalities--or, hypnosis to bend fingers/modulate pain?
Today the wonderfully professional CH therapists will design and sew a glove with ties to pull (gently) fingers toward palm.
I wish all of you the best knowledge and open scientific minds available in your healing.
N.B.If the signs and symptoms of shoulder and carpal surgeries can have such common post op outcomes--- predominately pain and lack of sleep-- what then is the root cause--- in what way was the body offended and ultimately maintains this cycle of inflammatory responses--anesthesia? Blessings.
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