Wrist Arthroscopy Recovery Time

Georgia Hand, Shoulder, and Elbow

Before having wrist arthroscopy, it is natural to want to know about your recovery time. Surgery has an impact on various aspects of your life, so preparing in advance can make the recovery process a lot smoother.

Our experts at Georgia Hand, Shoulder & Elbow in Marietta and Atlanta, Georgia have assisted many in fully recovering after an arthroscopic procedure on their wrist joint to relieve wrist pain. Below you will find the answers to common questions about wrist arthroscopy and its recovery time frame.

AdobeStock_273547199 1 (1)

Wrist Arthroscopy Surgery

Wrist arthroscopy is a surgical procedure that allows your surgeon to accurately diagnose and treat specific wrist and hand problems without making a large incision.

 This procedure may be recommended if you have:

What Happens During Arthroscopic Wrist Surgery?

The common steps a surgeon will take during an arthroscopic wrist surgery are listed below.

  1. First, anesthesia will be administered.
  2. Then, your surgeon will make a small incision in the back of your wrist.
  3. A surgical instrument (called an arthroscope) will then be inserted to give your surgeon an in-depth view of your wrist by displaying real-time images on a screen.
  4. A second incision will be made so that your surgeon can make the necessary repairs.
  5. The incision site will then be closed.

What Happens After Arthroscopic Wrist Surgery?

Your doctor will give you a list of instructions after your arthroscopic wrist surgery. Following your doctor’s instructions can ensure that your recovery process is successful and that you minimize complications that can extend your recovery time.

These instructions can include the following:

  • Limiting your activities, while making walking a priority. Walking boosts blood flow and helps prevent other complications.
  • Elevating your hand and wrist as much as possible for the first few days after surgery.
  • Using ice packs to reduce the swelling. If your doctor recommended cold therapy using a portable machine, be sure to follow the directions for the machine.
  • Keep your bandages and splint clean and dry.
  • Return to eating a normal diet.

Prescription Medicine for Pain During Your Recovery

Take any prescription pain medicine as prescribed by your doctor. If no medication is prescribed, ask your doctor if taking over-the-counter medicine for pain would be okay.  

If you notice that the medication is making you sick, ask your doctor if you can be prescribed a different pain medicine.

Additionally, if your doctor prescribes antibiotics, take the entire course of your antibiotics even if you start feeling better before your dosage is finished.  

What Should I Expect During My Recovery Period?

Your recovery time will depend on the specific repairs and treatment you need. After surgery, you can expect to have bruising and swelling around your wrist. This is completely normal, and you should notice it diminishing within a few days. You may need to wear a splint to keep your wrist immobile while it is healing. Your doctor will tell you when it is ok to advance your activities.

Generally, you will need about six weeks to recover. Your recovery time may be extended if you had damaged tissue that needs to be repaired.

Your surgeon will inform you when it will be okay for you to start your rehabilitation program. The wrist and arm exercises taught there will help you regain your strength and the functionality of your wrist after surgery.

When Will I Be Able to Return to Work?

The time frame that you are able to return to work will depend on your individual circumstances and your specific work environment. Those with desk jobs can often return to work sooner than those with physically demanding jobs.  

Outlook After Wrist Arthroscopy

The outlook for this procedure is very good. Since arthroscopy uses small incisions when compared to open surgery, you may experience:

  • Less pain
  • Less stiffness
  • Reduced risk of complications
  • Faster recovery

When Should I Seek Medical Care?

You should seek immediate medical care if you experience the following:

  • Numbness, tingling, or discoloration of your hand or fingers
  • Sharp pain that does not improve after taking pain medicines
  • Bleeding
  • Nausea
  • Any signs of infection

You should call 911 if you have severe trouble breathing or experience sudden chest pain.

If you need to have arthroscopic wrist surgery, be sure to ask one of the experts at Georgia Hand, Shoulder & Elbow in Marietta and Atlanta, GA about your specific recovery time. We are ready to give you the quality care you’re looking for! Contact us today!

Medically reviewed by

Randall Alexander, MD

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Plastic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon