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When To See an Orthopedic Hand Surgeon

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When To See an Orthopedic Hand Surgeon

Orthopedic hand surgery is a specialist area of the bone and joint medical field. Thai Hand Surgeons are experts in diagnosing problems with the hand, wrist, and arm.

If a problem occurs in the wrist or hand, you may turn to hand surgeon for help. A qualified hand surgeon will pay special attention to all areas of the hand wrist and the upper extremities (from the tip of the hand to the shoulder) and recommend the appropriate treatment. Not every visit to a hand surgeon results in hand surgery. Depending on the diagnosis, hand surgeons often recommend non-surgical treatments too.

Hand surgery is a specialist area of the medical field which started during WWII. During this time it became obvious that having one surgeon to handle all problems of the hand and wrist was far more effective than having different surgeons attend to different components. In 1945 the American Society for Surgery of the Hand was established, now there are more than 1,400 members of the Hand Society who are fully qualified to diagnose and treat all problems.

Surgeons must complete residency in orthopedic, plastic or general surgery, then must undergo sophisticated training in hand surgery for 1-2 years. It is this in depth training which enables the surgeon to deal with all aspects of the hand and wrist.

When Should I Visit A Hand Surgeon?

Of course some problems are more obvious than others and it may be clear that you need medical attention. However the hand is very complicated organ, even if a minor injury or disease occurs in the hand, wrist or arm; it is wise to visit a hand surgeon as soon as possible before more complications arise.

Common diagnoses of hand and wrist injuries

Tennis Elbow

Tennis ElbowKnow in medical terms as lateral epicondylitis, tennis elbow is a condition where the outer part of the elbow becomes painful and tender, usually as a result of a specific strain or overuse.

Tennis Elbow Symptoms:

  • Pain on the outer part of elbow (lateral epicondyle).
  • Gripping and movements of the wrist hurt, especially wrist extension and lifting movements.
  • Tenderness to touch, and elbow pain on simple actions such as lifting up a cup of coffee or throwing a baseball.
  • Pain usually subsides overnight.
  • If no treatment is given, can become chronic and more difficult to eradicate

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal Tunnel SyndromeCarpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) or Median Neuropathy at the Wrist is a medical condition in which the median nerve is compressed at the wrist, leading to pain, paresthesias, and muscle weakness in the forearm and hand.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Symptoms:

  • The first symptoms of CTS may appear when sleeping, and typically include numbness and paresthesia (a burning and tingling sensation) in the fingers, especially the thumb, index, and middle fingers.
  • Difficulty gripping and making a fist, dropping objects, and weakness.
  • In chronic cases, there may be wasting of the thenar muscles (the body of muscles which are connected to the thumb).

It is important to note that most pain felt in the wrist is not likely to fall under this diagnosis unless there is significant numbness and paresthesia.

Dupuytren’s Contracture

Dupuytren's ContractureDupuytren’s contracture (also known as Morbus Dupuytren) is a fixed flexion contracture of the hand where the fingers bend towards the palm and cannot be fully extended (straightened).

Dupuytren’s Contracture Symptoms:

  • The tough connective tissue within one’s hand becomes abnormally thick, which can cause the fingers to curl, and can result in impaired function of the fingers, especially the small and ring fingers.
  • Gradual onset, often beginning as a tender lump in the palm.
  • Over time, pain associated with the condition tends to go away, but tough bands of tissue may develop.

Peripheral Nerve Disorders

Nerves are fragile and can be damaged by pressure, stretching, or cutting. An Injury to a nerve can stop signals to and from the brain causing muscles not to work correctly; this may also cause loss feeling in the injured area.

Peripheral Nerve Disorder Symptoms:

  • Pain and discomfort.
  • Loss of feeling.
  • Muscles may not work correctly.
  • Severe cases in which the patient has a nerve scar or neuroma may be extremely painful and cause an electrical feeling when touched.

Trigger Finger

Trigger FingerTrigger finger, or trigger thumb, is a type of stenosing tenosynovitis in which the sheath around a tendon in a thumb or finger becomes swollen, or a nodule forms on the tendon. It is called trigger finger because when the finger unlocks, it pops back suddenly, as if releasing a trigger on a gun.

Trigger Finger Symptoms:

  • The affected digits may become painful to straighten once bent, and may make a soft crackling sound when moved.
  • More than one finger may be affected at a time, though it usually affects the thumb, middle, or ring finger.
  • Trigger finger is usually more pronounced in the morning, or while gripping an object firmly.

Ganglion Cysts

Ganglion CystsA ganglion cyst (also known as a bible bump) is a swelling that often appears on or around joints and tendons in the hand or foot.

Ganglion Cyst Symptoms:

  • The size of the cyst can vary over time, often becoming more inflamed if irritated.
  • Are most frequently located around the wrist and on the fingers.
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