Orthopaedic surgery - upper limb

Procedure Sedentary admin Sedentary light manual Active light manual Heavy manual Physically demanding
Carpal tunnel release 1-2 weeks 2-4 weeks 2-4 weeks 6-10 weeks 6-10 weeks
Cubital tunnel release 1-7 days 1-7 days 1-7 days 1-4 weeks 4-6 weeks
De Quervain’s release 1-2 weeks 2-4 weeks 2-4 weeks 6-10 weeks 6-10 weeks
Dupuytren’s collagenase injection 1 week 1 week 1 week 2 weeks 2 weeks
Dupytren’s fasciectomy 2-3 weeks 3-4 weeks 3-4 weeks 8-12 weeks 8-12 weeks
Finger arthroplasty 4-6 weeks 6-8 weeks 6-8 weeks 12 weeks 12 weeks1
Fractured clavicle 2-6 weeks 2-6 weeks 6-10 weeks 10-12 weeks 12 weeks
Fractured finger 0-6 weeks2 0-6 weeks2 0-6 weeks2 12 weeks 12 weeks
Fractured radial head, uncomplicated 1-2 weeks 1-2 weeks 2-6 weeks 6-12 weeks 12 weeks
Fractured scaphoid open reduction and fixation 4-6 weeks 4-6 weeks 8-12 weeks After union After union
Fractured wrist non-dominant 1 week 1 week 8-10 weeks 12 weeks 12 weeks
Fractured wrist dominant 8-10 weeks 8-10 weeks 8-10 weeks 12 weeks 12 weeks
Finger fusion 1-6 weeks2 1-6 weeks2 1-6 weeks2 12 weeks 12 weeks
Ganglion surgery 3-7 days 1 week 1-2 weeks 4-6 weeks 4-8 weeks
Hand tendon repair 6-8 weeks 8 weeks 8-10 weeks 12 weeks 12 weeks
Metacarpo-phalangeal joint arthroplasty 4 weeks 4-8 weeks 4-8 weeks 12 weeks3 Unlikely
Pisiformectomy 2-3 weeks 3-4 weeks 3-4 weeks 6-12 weeks 8-12 weeks
Scaphoid non-union bone graft and ORIF4 6 weeks 6-12 weeks 6-12 weeks 12 weeks+ 12 weeks+
Scapho-lunate ligament reconstruction 6 weeks 6 weeks 8-12 weeks 12 weeks 12-26 weeks
Shoulder arthroscopy (no additional procedures) 3-7 days 3-7 days 3-7 days 1-2 weeks 1-2 weeks
Shoulder subacromial decompression 1-3 weeks 2-6 weeks 4-8 weeks 6-12 weeks 6-12 weeks
Shoulder subacromial decompression with debridement 4-6 weeks 4-6 weeks 6-8 weeks 8-12 weeks 8-12 weeks
Shoulder rotator cuff repair 2-12 weeks 4-12 weeks 12 weeks 3-6 months 6-9 months
Shoulder biceps tendonotomy5 1-2 weeks 1-2 weeks 4-8 weeks 6-12 weeks 6-12 weeks
Shoulder acromio-clavicular joint excision6 1-3 weeks 3-6 weeks 3-12 weeks 12 weeks 12-26 weeks
Tennis elbow surgery 1-2 weeks 1-4 weeks 2-6 weeks 6-26 weeks 12-26 weeks
Trapeziectomy4 4-6 weeks 4-6 weeks 6-8 weeks 12-26 weeks 12-26 weeks
Trapezio-metacarpal fusion4 6 weeks 6 weeks 6-8 weeks 12-26 weeks 12-26 weeks
Trigger finger surgery 1-3 days 1-3 days 3-5 days 2-4 weeks 4 weeks
Ulnar head excision4 2 weeks 2 weeks 4-6 weeks 12-26 weeks 12-26 weeks
Ulnar osteotomy4 6 weeks 6 weeks 6 weeks 12-16 weeks 12-16 weeks
Wrist arthroscopy (no additional procedures) 1-3 days 1-3 days 3-7 days 7 days+ 7 days+
Wrist fusion 6-10 weeks 6-10 weeks 10-12 weeks 12-16 weeks unlikely
  1. Return to physically demanding work may not be possible
  2. Depending on which finger
  3. Return to heavy and physically demanding work unlikely unless the remainder of the hand is functioning normally
  4. For dominant hand use.
  5. Long head of biceps is cut to release worn tendon, may create 'popeye' appearance. No requirement for immobilisation.
  6. May be safe to drive after one week, work above shoulder height after three weeks, sustained overhead activities after three months, breast stroke as soon as comfortable, front crawl after three months.