Hands are arguably one of the most complex structure in your body. Without the numerous and sensitive nerves in your hands, the whole way we learn about the world would be affected. The way the tendons and muscles work together to move your wrists and fingers produce infinite possibilities for movement, helping us work, create, and take care of ourselves and others. When something goes wrong with your hand, whether a birth defect, injury, or degenerative condition, finding a good hand surgeon is so important for ensuring that you will recover the ability to move and sense through your hands.
What is a hand surgeon?
A hand surgeon has had many years of training and study. They are often members of the American Society for Surgery of the Hand, which was founded in 1946. In order to be a member, an orthopaedic, plastic, or general surgeon must complete one year of additional training that focuses solely on the hand, wrist, and forearm. They must then pass a rigorous exam upon completion of their fellowship training. This subspecialty requires interest, skill, dedication, and experience.
What kinds of conditions does a hand surgeon treat?
A hand surgeon may treat any condition affecting the tendons, joints, or muscles in the hand, wrist, or forearm. A good hand surgeon will have experience in diagnosing both common and rare conditions, and will typically recommend conservative treatments when there is a good indication that it will be successful without surgery. However, they will also be able to determine when surgery is the best course of action and have access to the latest medical technology to assist with surgery.
Some common conditions treated by hand surgeons include:
Carpal tunnel syndrome – when the median nerve located in the center of the wrist is constricted or pinched by the tendons and bones that form the “tunnel” through which the nerve passes, it is called carpal tunnel syndrome. While symptoms may often be relieved by a change in the way the wrist and hand are used, steroid injections that reduce swelling, or by using a splint, surgery to reduce the pressure on the nerve is sometimes necessary.
Hand fracture – if one of the many bones making up the hand is broken or fractured, a hand surgeon is the best person to see. The bone structure of the hand is comprised of carpal, metacarpal, and phalanges, scaphoid, etc., and this complex bone structure doesn’t provide much room for failure. Depending on the location and severity of the break, treatment may be non-surgical through setting the fracture and immobilizing the hand with a cast; or may require surgical intervention of pins or rods to ensure the bones heal correctly. In the case of multiple fractures or a crushing injury, a bone graft may be necessary.
Hand nerve injury – when one or more of the nerves in the hand is cut or otherwise injured, it is extremely important to determine the extent and location of the nerve damage. If a hand surgeon finds that the nerve damage requires surgery to repair, having it done as quickly as possible improves the outcome in most cases.
Because of the delicate and complex nature of the hand and wrist, you need an experienced hand surgeon to treat injuries and other conditions of the hand. In the Baltimore area, Orthopaedic Associates of Central Maryland has orthopedic doctors with specialized training for treating hand and wrist injuries, providing the best and most modern care available. Call (410) 644-1880 for an appointment today, or request one online.