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Undergoing any kind of surgery is a naturally nerve-racking thing. Hand surgery takes those nerves to the next level, because we as humans use our hands for nearly everything. They are instrumental in our day to day functions, and the thought of losing that mobility can be overwhelming. Here are some great ways to help prepare yourself for your hand surgery.

Gather The Facts

If your doctor is planning on scheduling a hand surgery for you, it’s probably because you have been meeting to discuss some form of pain or discomfort you may be experiencing. During this time it’s important to gather as much information as you can to prepare yourself, including the amount of time you should expect to be at the hospital. This allows you to plan ahead in terms of your work schedule and coordinating transportation if needed.

Clearance

Before having hand surgery, you will undergo a certain clearance process to make sure your body will be able to handle the surgery. This includes a physical examination, often accompanied by some blood tests. Another important thing to discuss with your doctor during this process is any medications that you are currently taking. This is crucial because your doctor may need to instruct you to halt medication use at some point before the surgery if it could have some kind of adverse effect on it.

Pre-Op Instructions

Once you’ve met all the necessary clearance requirements, your doctor will give you pre-operative instructions. Follow them, carefully! They will provide you with the most important information you need before you go under, including your designated arrival time, any medications you may need to take before, and how long you should be fasting before the surgery. Not following your pre-operative instructions can potentially lead to a rescheduling of the surgery.

Anesthesia

A big part of having hand surgery includes being put to sleep through the use of general anesthesia. This allows the patient to remain comfortable throughout the surgery, without having to be present for the painful parts. Another type of anesthesia includes regional anesthesia, which involves an injection used to numb nerves leading to the arm. This is beneficial because it leaves out the effects that general anesthesia have on patients, including being tired or nauseous. This will ultimately be decided by your doctor, and it’s definitely something you should discuss with them beforehand to make yourself more comfortable.

Dr. Arnold Peter Weiss is the R. Scot Sellers Scholar of Hand Surgery; Chief of Hand Surgery; Vice Chairman & Professor, Brown University.