Post-Op Instructions for the Elbow
- Begin with clear liquids and light foods (Jello, soups, clear liquids, etc.)
- Progress to your normal diet if you are not nauseated as tolerated
- Maintain your operative dressing, loosen bandage if swelling of the elbow or hand occurs
- It is normal for the elbow to bleed and swell following surgery – if blood soaks onto the bandage, do not become alarmed – reinforce with additional dressing
- You may shower on postoperative day #3. If you were placed in a splint. DO NOT remove the splint and place it in a protective bag. Keep the splint clean and dry.
- However, if you were not placed in a splint, then you may remove the dressing and all of the gauze pads. Leave steri-strips (special white band-aids) in place. Place waterproof band-aids over steri-strips and incision areas. Be careful not to slip and fall. Do not scrub over the surgical incisions – you may apply soap to your neck and allow the soapy water to run over your shoulder. Try and keep your forearm against your stomach while showering. Pat the elbow dry with a towel and apply new waterproof bandaids over the surgical incision.
DO NOT submerge the incision in water (i.e. NO bath, hot tub or pool, etc.) *Brace may come off to shower
- If you received regional anesthesia (nerve block) prior to surgery it will wear off within 6-8 hours. Additionally the local numbing medication that is injected at your incision site will also wear off in 6-8 hours.
- Most patients will require some narcotic pain medication for a short period of time
- Primary Medication = Percocet (Oxycodone)
- Take 1 – 2 tablets every 4 – 6 hours as needed
- Do not take more than 10 pills per day
- Plan on using it for 2 to 5 days, depending on level of pain
- Do NOT take additional Tylenol (Acetaminophen) while taking Norco, Vicodin or Percocet
- For larger surgeries, some patients will also be prescribed Oxycodone (5mg) to be used for breakthrough pain
- Take 1 – 2 tablets every 4 – 6 hours as needed
- If given Oxycodone, this should be used as a supplement during the first few days after the Surgery. As the pain level improves you should transition to just Percocet medication for residual pain.
- Common side effects of the pain medication are nausea, drowsiness, and constipation – to decrease the side effects, take medication with food.
- If constipation occurs, consider taking an over-the-counter laxative such as prune juice, Senekot, Colace (or Periocolase), or Miralax
- For nausea, take the prescribed Zofran as needed
- If you are having problems with nausea and vomiting, contact the office to possibly have your medication changed
- Do not drive a car or operate machinery while taking the narcotic medication
- Ibuprofen 400-600mg (i.e., Advil, Motrin, Aleve) may be taken in between the narcotic pain medication to help smooth out the postoperative “peaks and valleys”, reduce overall amount of pain medication required, and increase the time intervals between narcotic pain medication usage
- Your sling, and if applicable the splint, should be worn at all times (except for hygiene and exercises)
- Place pillows under the elbow to keep it elevated and to help reduce swelling
- At night place a pillow behind your elbow to prevent your shoulder from bending backward
- Begin immediately after surgery
- Use icing machine continuously or ice packs (if machine not prescribed) every 2 hours for 15 to 20 minutes daily until your first postoperative visit
- Motion Medical Ice Machine “Gameread”/Vasothermic device may be used.
- Use unit as frequently as tolerated x 14 days
- Unit is programmed hour on/hour off continuous of compression and ice alternating
- If braced* – Loosen brace to avoid added pressure
- If issues with Vasothermic device, please contact the distributor or Dr. Campbell’s office at NYU Langone Seaport Orthopaedics or at the NYU Center for Musculoskeletal Care at 646-356-9407 based on the location that you have your regular office visits.
- Begin range of motion exercises for your wrist and hands 24 hours after surgery – complete 3-4 sets of 10-15 reps per day
- Formal physical therapy (PT) will begin after your first postoperative visit and you will be given a script for this at that time
Contact Dr. Campbell’s office at NYU Langone Seaport Orthopaedics or at the NYU Center for Musculoskeletal Care at 646-356-9407 based on the location that you have your regular office visits, if any of the following are present:
- Painful swelling or numbness
- Unrelenting pain
- Fever (greater than 101° – it is normal to have a low grade fever for the first day or two following surgery) or chills
- Redness around incisions
- Color change in wrist, hand or lower extremity
- Continuous drainage or bleeding from incision (a small amount of drainage is expected)
- Difficulty breathing
- Excessive nausea/vomiting
**If you have an emergency after office hours or on the weekend, call NYU Langone Seaport Orthopaedics or the NYU Center for Musculoskeletal Care at 646-356-9407 based on the location that you have your regular office visits and you will be connected to our page service – they will contact Dr. Campbell. Please Do NOT call the hospital or Surgicenter.
**If you have an emergency that requires immediate attention, proceed to the nearest emergency room.
- Dr. Campbell will call you on your first day after surgery to address any questions or concerns. If you have not been contacted within 48 hours of surgery, please email Dr. Campbell or call directly (NYU Langone Seaport Orthopaedics or at the NYU Center for Musculoskeletal Care at 646-356-9407 based on the location that you have your regular office visits)
- If you do not already have a postoperative appointment scheduled, please contact the scheduling office during normal office hours to make a follow-up appointment.