Rehab begins quickly. When you are back in your hospital room, you'll
begin a gentle rehabilitation program to help relax the muscles around
your new elbow. Your arm will be in a splint and it may be wrapped in
an ice pack to help control pain and swelling. You’ll continue to
receive pain medication as needed.
Before you are discharged from the hospital, your physical therapist
will show you how to perform the rehabilitation exercises that are
important for your recovery.
You'll be discharged as soon as your surgeon determines that you
have recovered sufficiently. You can expect to stay in the hospital
for a couple of days after your surgery. Your bandages and sutures
will usually be removed before you leave.
At home, you'll need to continue your exercises. Your physical
therapist will instruct you about proper home care and may continue to
work with you. Your elbow area may be warm and tender for several
weeks. It is important to remember that while you are recovering, you
should not lift anything with the with the operative arm. Please
consult with your orthopedic surgeon before you begin to lift anything.
It is very important that you follow your surgeon's instructions.
Any questions should always be discussed with your surgeon before your
hospital discharge. In general:
- Do not use your surgery arm when getting out of bed or up from
a chair. Use the opposite arm.
- You may be advised not to
pull anything to you, such as pulling up pants and opening doors,
for six weeks after surgery.
- Your doctor will likely give
you a list of exercises to do once you're home. Be certain to follow
your doctor's instructions, but typically you may be asked to do
these exercises four or five times a day for a month or so.
- Be certain not to exceed the range-of-motion restrictions given
by your physician.
- Be careful to avoid falls.
- You may experience less pain after surgery, which may make you
believe you can do more. Be certain to follow your doctor's
instructions so that you don't overdo it.
- The amount of
weight you can lift using your surgery arm will be limited. Your
doctor may recommend that you don't lift anything heavier than a cup
of coffee for the first four to six weeks. Please consult with your
orthopedic surgeon before you begin to lift anything.
use will vary depending upon the situation, but your doctor may
request that you wear the sling every night for at least the first
- You will likely need to avoid contact sports after
surgery. Your doctor will discuss these restrictions with you.
- Remember that you will probably tire more easily than usual. You
may want to plan a rest period of 30 to 60 minutes mid-morning and
- Avoid many household chores, such as
raking, sweeping, mopping, and running the vacuum cleaner using your
surgery arm. Use long-handled feather dusters for dusting high and
low items. Your doctor will tell you when it is okay to do these
- Constipation is a common problem for patients
following surgery. This is usually due to your limited activity and
any pain medications you may be taking. Discuss your diet with your
doctor. It may include fresh fruits and vegetables as well as eight
full glasses of liquid each day, unless your doctor tells you
- Your doctor will probably give you a
prescription for pain pills. Please follow your doctor’s
instructions concerning these medications.
- Some swelling
around the incision is normal. You will find it more comfortable to
wear loose clothing to avoid pressure on the incision. Ask your
doctor or other qualified health professional about appropriate
- You may want to place a pillow behind your
elbow when seated or lying down to keep the surgery area forward to
help decrease pain.
- Your doctor may recommend that you
apply ice to your elbow to help decrease pain. A two-pound bag of
frozen peas or other small vegetables works surprisingly well as an