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Elbow fracture, cast removed, pain in bending hand. What steps can I take for complete rehabilitation of hand?

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Orthopaedic Surgeon
Practicing since : 1994
Answered : 10460 Questions

I had a small chip fracture on elbow 3 weeks back.
The Cast was removed 3 days back.

Currently I have some pain in bending my hand completely
- probably due to stiffening of muscles.

Ex: When I try bending the hand completely inside very near towards my shoulder, it hurts near the elbow.
Also, the reverse motion i.e. fully straightening the hand towards outside hurts near the elbow

I can do bending of hand at small angles without pain - only bending my hand completely
towards outside or inside causes pain.

What steps can I take for complete rehabilitation of my hand
motion as soon as possible ?

1. What are the types of exercises I can do to strengthen my muscles and cause the elbow pain to go away ?
2. Besides exercises, what else can help ? - I am trying to keep heat pack (cloth dipped in hot water) etc near elbow for few minutes
3. I am also trying to do some massage using mustard oil. Is it ok. Is there any other oil which you advise ?
4. Do I need to focus on any particular foods during recovery period.
5. Can I get a rough estimate of range of time for full recovery - when I will regain my
complete range of motion for the injured hand. I can then plan my lifestyle accordingly.

Posted Tue, 22 May 2012 in TMJ
Answered by Dr. Praveen Tayal 40 hours later
Thanks for writing to us.
A small chip fracture of elbow often leads to some decrease in range of movement after removal of the cast. Such minor stiffness gradually resolves with regular exercise under the guidance of a proficient physiotherapist. Please do not worry. The restriction of movement is more due to disuse of the hand for last 3-4 weeks while your arm was in the cast.
1. The best way to get rid of this stiffness is physiotherapy.
You need to start with passive extension and flexion exercises repeatedly under the guidance of your physiotherapist. In these exercises, the physiotherapist will help in moving your forearm after giving a heat therapy. Gradually you can then shift to the active exercises and movements.
2. Doing hot fomentation and a mild pain killer like ibuprofen will be helpful. You can do hot fomentation thrice daily until the pain on movement subsides completely.
3. You can use Flaxseed oil on the area and massage it lightly after every session of hot fomentation.
4. In general a healthy nutritious diet will be helpful. Calcium and protein XXXXXXX diet is recommended for early recovery. Adding a multimineral supplement with antioxidants will be helpful. Continue taking calcium and boron supplements for next two weeks.
5. The time taken depends on the regularity of physiotherapy sessions. Usually it takes two weeks for the arm to return to its normal range of movement.
I hope all your concerns have been taken care of.
In case you have additional questions or doubts, you can forward them to me, and I shall be glad to help you out.
Please accept my answer in case you do not have further queries.
Wishing you an early recovery.
Dr. Praveen Tayal.
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