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Closed Reduction Internal Fixation of an Upper Extremity Fracture
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
You may have a splint or cast placed during surgery to protect your surgery area. The area will remain numb for up to 6 hours. It is normal to have pain. Take your pain medicines before the numbness wears off completely. You may also notice swelling and bruising.
Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) for any of the following:
- You feel lightheaded, short of breath, or have chest pain.
- You cough up blood.
Seek care immediately if:
- Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
- You have severe pain, even after you take medicine.
- Your stitches come apart.
- Your cast or splint breaks.
- You cannot move your arm or fingers.
- You have tingling or numbness in your arm or fingers.
Call your doctor or orthopedist if:
- You have a fever or chills.
- Your cast or splint gets wet or begins to smell.
- Your bandage or cast feels too tight or too loose.
- You have a lot of itching under your cast or splint.
- Your incision is red, swollen, or draining pus.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
- Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask your healthcare provider how to take this medicine safely. Some prescription pain medicines contain acetaminophen. Do not take other medicines that contain acetaminophen without talking to your healthcare provider. Too much acetaminophen may cause liver damage. Prescription pain medicine may cause constipation. Ask your healthcare provider how to prevent or treat constipation.
- Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Self-care after surgery:
- Apply ice to the area. Ice helps decrease swelling and pain. Ice may also help prevent tissue damage. Use an ice pack or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel and place it on your fractured area for 15 to 20 minutes every hour as directed.
- Elevate your arm as directed. Raise your arm above the level of your heart as often as you can. This will help decrease swelling and pain. Prop your arm on pillows or blankets to keep it elevated comfortably.
- Ask about activity. Ask your healthcare provider when you can return to your daily activities and go back to work.
- Eat foods with calcium and vitamin D. Calcium and vitamin D help fractures heal. Examples of high calcium foods include kale, spinach, salmon, and fortified orange juice and some breakfast cereals. Tuna, fortified milk and some cheeses, egg yolks, and soy milk are examples of vitamin D foods.
- Do not smoke. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can increase your risk for infection and slow down wound healing. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.
- Physical therapy: A physical therapist teaches you exercises to help improve movement and strength, and to decrease pain.
Cast or splint care:
If you have a cast or splint, do the following:
- Place a plastic bag over your cast when you take a shower. Tape the plastic bag to your skin to keep water away from your cast or splint.
- Check the skin around the cast or splint every day. Apply lotion on any red or sore areas.
- Do not push down or lean on any part of the cast or splint. It may break or move the injured area.
- Do not scratch the skin under the cast with any sharp or pointed object inside the cast.
- If your splint is too tight, gently loosen it so that your fingers are comfortable.
Follow up with your doctor or orthopedist as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
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