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Surgery done for spiral fracture of the humerus. Started getting severe pain. How to get relief?

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General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 2001
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My husband sustained a spiral fracture of the right humerus a week ago and had surgery a week Sunday. They put in a rod with pins. He is now Day 6 post-op and today his pain increased, he has quite a good deal of edema in his upper and lower arm as well as bruising down into the palm of his hand. I have a couple of concerns: to what extent is the edema normal, what would you expect in terms of pain level at this point and would you expect to see bruising in his hand? I believe this is a new finding today. BTW, I am a medical person (OB/GYN, not ortho!) so am familiar with terminology, etc. Thanks.
Posted Wed, 20 Feb 2013 in Bones, Muscles and Joints
Answered by Dr. Michelle Gibson James 1 hour later
Hi, thanks for using healthcare magic

Normally post internal fixation of a fracture, it is recommended that the person keep the affected limb elevated above the level of the heart as much as possible to reduce the risk of edema. The use of ice packs every few hours for 10 to 20 minutes also reduces the inflammatory response. It is normally advised, as well, that the analgesics be used consistently as prescribed to reduce the chances of break through pain.
At 6 days post surgery , pain and edema would still be expected but the level should not be increasing

There is a risk of infection with open reduction and XXXXXXX fixation and this would also present with worsening pain and swelling. In addition there would be fever and change in appearance.
Though the symptoms described can be part of the normal response to surgery, the fact that the edema and pain are increasing warrant ruling out infection via examination by his doctor.

Hope this helps, feel free to ask any other questions
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