Surgical Options…

Right now I am debating having surgery on my hand. It would be arthroscopic and minimally invasive, but still surgery and for me the possibility of returning to a cast looms. Since most people reading this don’t really know me so I will provide a brief background…

Last March (almost 10 months ago!) I broke my wrist while on vacation in The Bahamas. I was playing tennis at the time and slipped while serving on the clay courts. I went straight down at top speed and fractured my scaphoid. The scaphoid is literally the worst bone you can break since it does not get enough blood flow to heal properly or in a timely manner. My treatment consisted of 10 weeks in a cast, followed by 6 weeks in a brace and then freedom, but immediately into Occupational Therapy and then Physical Therapy which is where I still am today – twice a week. The length of my immobilization caused MAJOR atrophy and allowed for a vast amount of scare tissue to develop. (You can expect the healing process to be 3 times the length of time immobilized. For me it’s 16 weeks x 3 – 48 weeks!!)

In December I learned that in addition to the fracture, which is finally healing, I also have damaged cartilage and ligaments in my hand which has been causingmy general loss of flexibility, cracking and popping, general stiffness and of course some pain.

Since this is my right hand and I am right handed I am faced with the very real possibility that my hand will never be the same. At the moment, my left hand is actually stronger than my right which is a weird thing since I have never been ambidextrous. Anyway, the surgery would allow for the cartilage to be potentially fixed and the ligament damage to be explored. According to my doctor, there is about a 95% chance that the cartilage can be fixed which should offer some relief. There is a 5% chance that when he scopes my hand we will learn that the damage is more severe than expected and to fix it will require that I return to a cast for 4-6 weeks.

At this point he is not recommending working on the ligaments as they can not be repaired through this type of surgery and would require a significant healing process and a return to a cast as well.

I am leaning towards the surgery since I want my hand to be back as much as it can, but am worried that the damage will be bad. I have not had much luck with my hand since the injury so far… A new cast means additional immobilization which means that I take a step back in my recovery in order to hopefully be able to go further than I have gotten today. Well – something to sleep on anyway.

10 Replies to “Surgical Options…”

  1. damn man, that’s a terrible turn of luck. i’d talk to as many doctors as i could and get as many opinions as possible, then make your decision.

    best of luck.

  2. i had my hand done it was not that bad but make sure you see more than one doc i saw 3 doc and they all told me the same thing so good luck and let me know what happends

  3. I had the surgery and coming up a year later I don’t feel any pain, but do notice a clear difference in the hands. Fine for everyday stuff, but my right (the busted one) is weaker. Still doing therapy when I can… it should eventually even out.

  4. I feel your pain. I fractured my scaphoid in June of 2003, only to have avascular necrosis and a refracture in March of 2005. This had become a plague of difficulty after two bone graphs, a bone stimulator, and now the doctors are saying there is no fix. I have seen two orthopedic surgens and two hand specialist. I can relate to your frustration and if you have any advice, I welcome it..I am at my witts end. Walk with peace and love.

  5. Dee – Sorry to hear of your continued issues. I’ve personally taken it pretty easy on my hand and have not returned to Tennis yet. My wrist is far from normal, but is functional and only gets stiff occassionally… no real pain. It’d be nice though if there was a clear recovery path for this type of thing as we are far from the only ones with the problem.

  6. im still in my cast,been 3 weeks/cast is getting looser/pain is still pretty bad/should i go back and see about getting a new cast put on /its pretty loose and im afraid ill mess it up worse jim

  7. Sorry to hear…

    My cast got loose over time, and my pain stayed pretty constant unfortunately. I was taking vicodin for weeks to try and compensate, but learned much later my cartiledge was also damaged which was a major reason for surgery later on.

    I’d go for a checkup if you are not feeling good about things.

  8. I got my scaphoid fractured May 22, 2007. Then after more than 2 months in cast CT scan showed up that ther is a possibility of non-union.
    Had operation 1st of August, i.e. 2 weeks ago. Scaphoid been fixed with Acutrak screw. No pain now, wrist still with splint …
    Wondering how long it may take till full recovery ?

  9. Hard to believe it’s been as long as it’s been already …

    I did not have the screw put in… I guess I was lucky in that regard. I was in several casts and went through physical therapy for many months only to learn that there was additional damage in my hand which led to my surgery. As I recall, it was a few months after the surgery and therapy before my hand felt “normal” though I had to have cartilage repaired on the back of my hand.

    I have to be honest, my hand is not the same. It’s weaker than I would like and occasionally stiff and locks up a bit. I can regularly crack stuff in there as I stretch it out…

    I hope things work out for you. It’s remarkable how much damage can occur in such a small place.

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