Dupuytren’s disease is a forward contracture of the fingers causing ‘clawed fingers’. This causes an inability to grasp objects or to put your hands in your pockets and can seriously restrict your lifestyle and quality of life.
Dupuytren’s disease often requires hand surgery, which divides or removes the thickened bands to help restore your finger motion. Skin grafting may be needed, it just depends on the extent of the hand surgery that is required to resolve your condition.
These are your post-operative instructions from Dr Hartley for the period following your Dupuytren’s excision.
There are six questions we are often asked by our patients:
Should I move or exercise after a Dupuytren’s excision?
How long do I leave my dressings on my hand after a Dupuytren’s excision?
What pain relief medication can I use after a Dupuytren’s excision?
How long until I can drive again following a Dupuytren’s excision?
How long will it take to recover following a Dupuytren’s excision?
How long before I can return to work after a Dupuytren’s excision?
We will answer these six questions in turn below:
Yes, exercise is important following your surgery. So make a gentle fist as best you can and hold for 3-5 seconds and then straighten your fingers. Perform this exercise at least 10 times every hour while you are awake.
Your hand will be covered with a padded crepe bandage following your Dupuytren’s excision surgery. So, if you wish to take a shower, tape a plastic bag over your bandage and hold your hand and fingers up, to prevent water dripping inside your dressing.
If your dressing becomes dirty or loose, you can remove the crepe bandage and the wool bandage after three days. Please leave the sticky dressings underneath intact, until your next follow-up appointment with Dr Hartley.
Your hand and fingers may be numb for up to 24 hours after surgery, due to the use of a nerve block. This usually resolves fully within 24 hours, but occasionally can last for a few days.
If you require pain relief, take simple analgesics, such as Panadol Osteo regularly and don’t forget to take your own medications from your doctor.
It is your responsibility and therefore your decision to drive. Dr Hartley suggests driving when you can lift a full two litre carton of milk, pour out some milk and return the carton to the table in a controlled fashion.
For the first few days you will not be using your hand very much, if at all. After about three days you will be able to perform most activities that do not require grip strength, such as using a knife and fork and combing your hair.
Your return to work will be largely determined by what you do with your hands at your place of work and whether the operation was to your dominant hand.
A return to clerical duties can occur within days of surgery, whereas it can be several weeks before returning to a manual job. If your surgery is under WorkCover, they may arrange a workplace assessment to determine if there are light-duties you can undertake when you return to work.
Here are three more essential pieces of information regarding your recovery period.
It is fine to leave your hand by your side, but if you notice that your hand is throbbing or swelling, lift your hand to the level of your heart or higher, until the throbbing or swelling subsides.
You can expect about two thirds of your contracture to be improved following surgery.
Cigarette smoking (even just one or two) can affect your healing and rate of complications following a Dupuytren’s excision. It is strongly recommend that you do not smoke for at least one month after surgery.
For more information on what to do after Dupuytren’s excision surgery, please call our receptionist - Annie Thomas on 1300 447 563 or complete our online enquiry form.