Exercise after surgery


Q: I am an endorphin addict, and I've just had open reduction internal fixation surgery on my right (dominant) distal radius. My doctor informs me that I cannot exercise again until he personally removes my bandage/splint and examines my wrist, which is not scheduled to happen until two weeks after the surgery. He says that even just doing cardio, I risk infecting the wound due to sweat.

MY QUESTION IS THIS: Although I realize one should never blatantly disobey the orders of a physician, I would like to do the following: One week after surgery, surely the wound will be fairly well healed. Could I not remove the splint and bandage, do 30 minutes on an indoor trainer bicycle, scrupulously clean the wound with alcohol afterwards, and replace the splint and bandage as I found it? Is that not a safe course of action?

Symptoms:  Exercise after surgery

A:   Hi.
Thanks for your query and an elucidate history.
Read and understood about your Endorphine addiction, recent open surgery and your plans about exercises and caring the wound and replacing splint and bandages., in spite of your Doctor's advice.

It is not a safe course of action.
The reasons being as follows:
- The wounds of any nature take at least 3 weeks for getting enough strength to withstand any wear and tear caused purposefully.
- The open approach for the most distal radius indicates that the fracture is such that needs rest for at least 3 weeks hence the question arises about not disturbing the wound at all, it is already splinted too. Splints means no disturbance at all.
- This is very important fracture as it is the distal radius that too of the dominant side. This gets the chance to have uneventful healing only once and any disturbance in healing pertains to the complications which are very difficult to treat particularly in the site you have the fracture in.

Well, this is my advice and I would also advise you for following your Surgeon stringently, as per the causes mentioned.

I hope this answer helps you to understand ''why not''.

Comments / Follow Ups

Patient: This same doctor also wants me to be able to make a fist within two weeks. I can clench my fingers, but my thumb has very little strength, and hurts a great deal to move in the same way that you would if you were trying to operate a cigarette lighter (moving the tip downward). How intensively should I be trying to move my thumb?
Doctor: Thanks for your feedback.
The principles remains the same.
You should not apply too much of force for 2-3 weeks as the tendons of the thumb cross the fractured site and hence too much force should be avoided.

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