THIS POST IS PART OF THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO HAND, WRIST AND ELBOW INJURIES
After a devastating fall, Pam Powers lost the ability to do just about everything in her daily life. Pam could still walk, but unfortunately everything else was put on hold. She found it extremely difficult to do basic tasks, such as opening water bottles, brushing her teeth, writing, getting dressed, using the bathroom and even eating.
It all started while Pam was painting the upstairs hallway in her home. She got her feet tangled in a drop cloth while she was getting off the ladder, which was at the top of the stairs. Luckily, Pam was able to throw herself towards the wall to avoid the stairwell. However, she wasn’t able to avoid an injury and ended up breaking her radius and ulna bones in her right, dominant wrist.
What does an orthopedic hand surgeon do?
Pam chose OrthoIndy because she had a positive experience as a patient in the past and she knew several other people who have been patients at OrthoIndy. With her most recent injury, Pam became a patient of orthopedic hand and upper extremity surgeon, Dr. Andrew Vicar.
As an orthopedic hand surgeon, Dr. Vicar specializes in specific hand, wrist and elbow procedures. “In terms of trauma, orthopedic hand surgeons treat fractures from the elbow to tips of fingers and repair lacerations of tendons, arteries, nerves and skin,” said Dr. Vicar.
Broken wrist surgery
Only five days after her fall, Pam was in surgery. During surgery, Dr. Vicar found that Pam had also crushed her joint.
“Pam’s fractures were severe and she had multiple breaks in the radius near and into the joint. I made an incision on top of the joint, moved the tendons to one side or the other, and evaluated the extent of the fracture damage,” said Dr. Vicar.
“Then, I had to put the pieces back where they belong like putting a puzzle back together. Once all the pieces were in place, I put two plates and multiple screws in position to hold them together while the fracture healed over the next six weeks.”
How long does it take to recover from a wrist surgery?
Pam admits that she was feeling frustrated that this incident happened and was impatient for recovery. “I wanted to be better and ‘back to normal’ on my time table, not the normal healing time,” said Pam.
Recovery took longer for Pam because of the severity of the fracture. “When a patient needs surgery for their broken wrist, it means it was a particularly bad break. Therefore, the patient will experience more swelling and stiffness than those who just need a cast alone,” said Dr. Vicar.
“Physical therapy and occupational hand therapy were ordered for Pam to help her regain motion, strength and daily use. This is difficult work for the patient and can take three to four months to recover.”
Physically, Pam’s pain was bearable because of pain medication; she was able to quickly transition to just Advil or Tylenol. The pain lessened even more when the pin and stitches were taken out because the brace wasn’t as heavy or tight.
A little over three months after the fall, Pam was released from Dr. Vicar’s care. After her surgery and physical therapy, Pam is feeling much better and making progress on her recovery. Pam is also working on achieving her pre-break activity status.
Right now, Pam’s hand and fingers are a tad bit swollen and she has some aches in her arm and wrist, which are the only symptoms that remain and are normal after such an extensive injury. Pam’s plan is to continue the exercises from physical therapy in order to be back to normal by summer vacation.
“My experience with OrthoIndy and Dr. Vicar were very positive,” said Pam. “I can’t say enough nice things. Everyone was very kind and caring. Everything was done efficiently. I think Dr. Vicar did a great job of putting me back together.”
Pam also has words of wisdom for others going through hand and arm surgery. “My advice is to follow all the directions as you are told. Then, things will turn out well,” said Pam.
Learn more about hand, wrist and elbow treatment at OrthoIndy.
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Your well-being is important to us. Click the button below or call us to schedule an appointment with one of our orthopedic specialists. If your injury or condition is recent, you can walk right into one of our OrthoIndy Urgent Care locations for immediate care. For rehabilitation and physical therapy, no referral is needed to see one of our physical therapists.