The amount you can use your arm and when you can start using it will depend on the condition of your elbow. Be sure to ask your doctor what limits you may have.
Your doctor will have you go to physical therapy to help you gain strength and use of your arm. If you have a splint, you may need to wait a few weeks to start therapy.
- Ask your doctor if you can begin to increase your movement in your elbow by gently opening and closing your elbow joint. (If you have pain or problems with your incision when you do this exercise, you may be doing it exercise too much.)
- You can reduce soreness after exercise by putting ice on the joint.
After the first week, you may be able to use your splint only while sleeping. Ask your doctor if this okay. You will need to avoid carrying anything or pulling items even when your splint is off.
By 6 weeks, you should be able to slowly increase daily activities to help make your elbow and arm stronger.
- Do not lift anything heavier than 1-2 pounds when you do your exercises. Ask your doctor or physical therapist how much you can lift.
- You may also need to do shoulder and spine range-of-motion exercises.
By 12 weeks, you should be able to lift more weight. Ask your doctor what other activities you can do at this point.
Make sure you know the proper way to use your elbow before you start any activity or move your arm for any reason. Ask your doctor if you can:
- Lift things heavier than 10 to 15 lbs for the rest of your life
- Play golf or tennis, or throw objects (such as a ball) for the rest of your life
- Do any activities that make you lift your elbow over and over, such as shoveling or shooting basketballs
- Do jamming or pounding activities, such as hammering
- Do impact sports, such as boxing or football
- Do physical activities that need quick stop and start motions or twisting with your elbow
- Push heavy objects