What activities can I engage in after an elbow reconstruction surgery?

Generally, after having elbow reconstruction surgery, you should avoid any activity that involves a lot of movement. Most people are able to go for walks and use the arm for the gentle activities of daily living as early as 2 to 6 weeks after the surgery. These activities are strongly encouraged soon after having the surgery.

For the first days after having this procedure, your arm should remain in the sling, unless you are otherwise instructed. You should refrain from any kind of activity that involves movement and may return to sedentary work or school only after one week and only if the pain is tolerable.

Generally, after their elbow surgeries, people can return home if they can be provided with assistance by family members, or if personal care can be arranged through private agencies. When home support is not available, a safe environment for recovery could be available at a convalescent facility.

Understanding limitations after elbow reconstruction surgery

Elbow reconstruction is effective in lessening pain and restoring the functional ability of the elbow, but even after you have completed the recovery process, you will still have some restrictions:

  • The main limitation of elbow reconstruction surgery is the permanent lifting restriction of not more than seven pounds.
  • Heavy manual activities aren't recommended at any time following elbow reconstruction, because heavy activity can loosen the reconstructed parts in the bone and damage the artificial joint.
  • Avoid household chores, such as raking, sweeping, mopping, and running the vacuum cleaner using your surgery arm.

0 – 3 weeks

The elbow is immobilized in a splint until the patient’s first post-operative visit, usually at 7 to 10 days after surgery. The surgery performed on the elbow tends to create significant scar tissue and stiffness, and as a result, light active range of motion exercises are started early to help prevent post-operative stiffness.

3 – 6 weeks

After 3 weeks, the patient can be advanced to a hinged elbow brace with limits set by the surgeon. Strict non-weight-bearing precautions are maintained during this phase. It is important to emphasize to therapists that patients need to avoid shoulder abduction because gravity can cause varus stress to the elbow and stress the repair.

6 -12 weeks

Driving, self-care, activities of daily living, shopping, will require some assistance until you can comfortably and confidently perform the necessary functions, which may take 6 or more weeks.

Disclaimer: We do not assume responsibility for the use of the provided information or its interpretation. Our efforts are towards providing current and reliable information; however these should not be considered, or used as a substitute for diagnosis or treatment.

Source: https://www.cedars-sinai.edu/Education/Medical-Library/