Relief of pain

The local anaesthetic that you have had will wear off in the next 1 to 2 hours.

Provided you do not have an allergy to the painkiller, it is safe to use over-the-counter painkillers to reduce your pain so you can be more active.

It is important to use painkillers carefully, as they have side effects. Paracetamol is the simplest and safest painkiller. However, always get advice before taking paracetamol if you have liver or kidney problems.

You could also try anti-inflammatory tablets like Ibuprofen as long as you don’t have a condition (such as a stomach ulcer) that prevents you using them.

Always take your painkillers at regular intervals at the recommended dose / exactly as prescribed. This is to make sure they work as well as possible for you. The aim is for pain control to be constant.

Putting off taking painkillers can make the pain more severe. It may then take longer to get it under control when you do take them.

If over-the-counter painkillers do not work, ask for help from your GP or pharmacist.

Changing position and using a pillow to support the wound can help reduce discomfort.

Please do not use a hot water bottle as this can lead to scalding of the skin. 

Check with your GP if you have been prescribed other analgesia.

Pain over the incision generally improves over the first two weeks but in some cases lasts for longer.

You will be provided with a sling to wear for the first few days after the operation. This needs to be removed regularly so that you can stretch your arm above your head and bend and straighten your elbow. It is important to keep your hand elevated to aid in the removal of swelling and prevent stiffness of your fingers.

Dressings / bandage

After the operation your hand will be in a large bandage. An appointment will be arranged for two to four days after your surgery with the Hand Therapist in the Therapy Department, Yeovil Hospital to replace this with a lighter dressing. If you are unable to attend this please contact you GP surgery to arrange for your bandage to be reduced. All dressings should be kept clean and dry and covered with a plastic bag when washing until the stitches are removed.


You can use your hand normally for light functional tasks whilst in the bandage. It is also important to keep your fingers moving by stretching open your hand and then making a first regularly during the day. Avoid pushing up from a chair and heavy gripping tasks for the first few weeks after your surgery.

When can I return to driving and go back to work?

Following the removal of your stitches you can return to driving as long as you are comfortable and have enough strength and control to drive safely. Please discuss with the hand therapist. How quickly you return to work depends on your job.

Generally light activity/secretarial work will be at about two weeks and heavier activity at four to six weeks. You will be advised by the physiotherapist


The signs of infection can be any of the following:

  • Severe or increasing pain at the site
  • Swelling and redness
  • Discoloured or foul smelling discharge.
  • Numbness or tingling.

If you are concerned about any of the above, see your practice nurse promptly, taking this leaflet with you.

Your practice nurse is the first point of contact. They will be able to assess your wound if you suspect it is infected.

Persistent Pain

If you experience persistent pain after 48 hours you may need advice from your GP.


If bleeding occurs at home, do not disturb the bandage. Press firmly on the area, for a full 15 minutes (by a clock). Do not take the bandage off, put an additional “pressure dressing” on top of the original. Maintain use of sling. If bleeding persists you will need to visit your practice nurse or local Emergency Department for assessment.

Be vigilant for bleeding if you take anticoagulants, e.g. Aspirin or Warfarin.

Post general anaesthetic instructions

  • You must be accompanied home by a responsible adult age 18 year +
  • You must not be left alone for 48 hours after your anaesthetic.
  • Do not lock the bathroom or toilet door for the next 48 hours.
  • Avoid strenuous exercise for the next 24 hours
  • You must not drive until advised by your surgeon
  • No alcohol or sleeping tablets for 48 hours.
  • No using anything that could potentially cause harm, such as a kettle, cooker or iron for the next 48 hours.
  • No signing legal documents for the next 48 hours.
  • No looking after young children alone for the next 48 hours.

Ref: 04/21/32
Review: 07/23