Dr. Ekkehard Bonatz answers your questions about what to expect after you’ve had hand surgery.
Q: I’ve been told I will have a cast, splint, or brace. What does that mean?
A: Many surgeries require a short time of protection to allow your body to start its recovery from your procedure. Leaving surgery, your hand, wrist, or forearm may be wrapped with a bulky dressing. Surgeons will frequently include a splint as a part of the dressing. It is a rigid part of the dressing that is intended to protect the surgical repair and add to comfort. A splint typically covers only part of the surgical area, leaving some room for swelling. Depending on what is needed for your particular surgery, your surgeon may recommend that you return to the office after a few days for a dressing change or a change to a full cast.
A cast is applied by wrapping fiberglass tape or plaster around your hand, wrist, or arm. The cast hardens and forms a rigid hollow tube around your extremity. It holds the surgical area still during the healing process. It may need to be changed over time to account for swelling, wound care, suture removal, or to take x-rays. Some surgeries require a brace during the healing process.