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HealthInfo Canterbury

Recovering from surgery for Dupuytren contracture

palm massageRecovering well from this surgery takes some time and effort. It often takes eight weeks or so before your hand feels normal again, but you will get better week by week.

During this time the goal is to regain your hand movement and strength without causing unnecessary scarring, which could lead to the contracture returning. Therefore, it's important to not push things too hard – do only what you are comfortable with, and stop as soon as anything starts hurting.

Regularly perform deep massage over the scar to help break it up. Apply regular gentle circular pressure over your scar. This should feel like deep pressure rather than superficial massage.

Your surgeon will let you know if you need to wear a splint at night, and for how long. This is different for different people, but it is common to need a splint for three months after the surgery. The splint helps to stop your finger returning to a bent position. If you do need one, your surgeon will refer you to a hand therapist.

Exercise and activity

In general, you should only do as much as you are comfortable with. If your hand is becoming painful and swollen you are doing too much.

You will need to avoid firm grasping or lifting for six to eight weeks. Pain will limit what you can do for around six weeks.

You may be off work for two to four weeks, depending on your job. Some people can go back to work after one week, while others might not be able to do heavier work for eight weeks or more. Your surgeon will discuss this with you.

When you see your surgeon again, they will look at how your fingers and hand are moving and may show you some exercises to do. If your hand isn't moving well they will refer you to a hand therapist.

Hand therapy after Dupuytren's surgery can be intensive. You might have to go to hand therapy sessions once or twice a week for eight weeks, and also do exercises during the day. Whether the operation is a success or not depends very much on your input into your exercise programme after surgery.

Important

Seek help as soon as possible if you:

See your GP or after-hours GP or:

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Endorsed by clinical director, Orthopaedic Surgery and clinical director, Plastic Surgery, Canterbury DHB. Last reviewed March 2017.

Sources

Page reference: 338399

Review key: HIDUC-12822