What’s The Difference Between a General Physician and a Hand Specialist?

You probably have a general physician that you see from time to time for checkups and general health. But when does an orthopedic hand surgeon need to step in?

Should you see your general physician about your hand and wrist pain or is a hand specialist necessary? Keep reading for more information about where to go when you need different kinds of medical care.

What Can Your General Physician Do?

The doctor you visit for all your standard health issues is called a general practitioner. These medical doctors provide you with generalized, primary care. They practice under the umbrella of general well being for their patients. They have no special training in any one area of medicine.

Their training includes the standard 4-year undergraduate program, followed by 4 years of medical school. After medical school, general physicians must complete a 1-2 year residency program.

General physicians provide routine checkups, immunizations, and treatment of illness and injury on an ongoing basis to male and female patients of any age. If you develop a serious condition, they will refer you to a specialist who has undergone additional training in a given area.

What Can a Hand Specialist Do?

If you’re experiencing hand and wrist pain or issues of some kind, your general physician will need to refer you to a hand and wrist specialist.

Hand specialists, also called orthopedic hand surgeons, are trained to perform surgery on patients with problems that affect the hand, wrist, or forearm. Hand specialists also treat diseases, injuries, and deformities of the bones and muscles as they affect the hands, wrists, and forearms.

The training to become a hand specialist starts with the same training as a general physician: 4 years of undergraduate school, 4 years of medical school.

After all that, an aspiring hand specialist must complete additional training in the field of orthopedic surgery, plastic surgery, or general surgery for a period of 5-7 years. Once that’s complete, they apply for very limited fellowship spots for additional training and experience in the field of hand surgery for one to two years. This is what “fellowship training” entails.

Once these requirements are met, they must pass set of rigorous certification examinations.

Once all this training is complete, they have become a hand specialist that is qualified to treat common problems of the hand, wrist, and forearm, including:

• Carpal tunnel syndrome
• Tennis elbow
• Wrist pain
• Sports injuries of the hand and wrist
• Fractures of the hand, wrist, and forearm
• Trigger finger
• Arthritis and other musculoskeletal diseases that affect the hands, wrists, and forearms

Your hands and wrists need specialized care that you can only get from a hand specialist. The fellowship-trained doctors at the Hand Surgery Specialists of Texas in Dallas and Houston are experienced and prepared to give you that care. Make an appointment today!

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The Hand Surgery Specialists of Texas offers diagnosis and treatment for hand, wrist, and elbow problems in Houston, using the most advanced and minimally invasive medical techniques. Our orthopedic hand specialists and hand and finger surgeons are waiting to provide you with excellent care at one of our hand care centers in River Oaks, Clear Lake, North Houston, Katy/Sugarland, or Baytown