Why Visit a Hand Surgeon?
The hand is a unique area of the human body that is made up of bone, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles, nerves, skin, and blood vessels. These elements must all be in good working order for the hand to function well.
The relationship between all these structures is delicate and refined. An injury or disease can affect any or all of these structures and impair the use of the hand.
A qualified hand surgeon is trained to diagnose and treat all problems related to these different structures in the hand, wrist, and forearm.
Hand surgeons have received specialized additional training in the treatment of hand problems beyond their board certified specialty training in orthopaedic surgery, plastic surgery, or general surgery. To become members of the American Society for Surgery of the Hand, hand surgeons must have completed a full year of such additional training and must pass a rigorous certifying examination.
Many hand surgeons also have expertise with problems of the elbow, arm, and shoulder. Some hand surgeons treat only children, some treat only adults and some treat both. Common problems treated include:
- carpal tunnel syndrome
- tennis elbow
- wrist pain
- sports injuries of the hand and wrist
- fractures of the hand, wrist, and forearm
- trigger finger
Other problems treated by hand surgeons include arthritis, nerve and tendon injuries, and congenital limb differences (birth defects).
Not all problems treated by a hand surgeon need surgery. Hand surgeons often recommend non-surgical treatments, such as medication, splints, therapy, or injections.
Hand Surgery and Your Plastic Surgeon
Dramatic advances have been made in recent years in treating patients with hand injuries, degenerative disorders, and birth defects of the hand. At the forefront of these advances have been plastic surgeons-specialists whose major interest is improving both function and appearance. Plastic surgeons undergo intensive training in hand surgery, and they (along with orthopedic surgeons and general surgeons) treat patients with a wide range of hand problems.
This information is designed to give you a basic understanding of the most common hand problems-what they are, what plastic surgeons can do for them, and the results you can expect. It can’t answer all of your questions, since each problem is unique and a great deal depends on your individual circumstances. Please be sure to ask Dr. Gabriel if there is anything about the procedure you don’t understand.
If You’re Considering Hand Surgery
If you’re considering hand surgery, a consultation with a Dr. Gabriel is a good place to start. Dr. Gabriel will examine you, discuss the possible methods of treatment for your problem, and let you know if surgery is warranted. If it is, Dr. Gabriel will discuss the procedure in detail, including where the surgery will be performed (in an outpatient surgery center, or a hospital), the anesthesia and surgical techniques that will be used, possible risks and complications, the recovery and rehabilitation period, and the probable outcome in terms of function and appearance.
Don’t hesitate to ask Dr. Gabriel any questions you may have during the initial consultation-including any concerns you have about the recommended treatment and the costs involved. (Since hand surgery is performed primarily to correct physical abnormalities, it usually is covered by insurance. Check your policy or call your carrier to be sure.)
What is Hand Therapy?
Hand therapy helps a patient regain maximum use of his or her hand after injury, surgery or the onset of disease. Treatment is provided by a hand therapist. To become a hand therapist, your health care professional must first train as an occupational or physical therapist and then receive additional training in hand therapy.
Hand therapists teach exercises, apply modalities and create custom splints to help the hand heal and to protect it from additional injury.
Content courtesy of ASSH.org and ASPS.org