Many people accept hand pain as a part of growing older or working hard, but that’s not always the best choice. In many cases, your injury may require medical intervention.
You do a lot with your hands. They help you eat, get dressed, write and work. These activities require the proper sensation and functioning of your hand joints, tendons and muscles.
When you have a problem with your hands, you need to care for all the different kinds of tissues that enable them to function. For that kind of specialized treatment, you’ll need to see a hand surgeon. A hand surgeon can help you to resolve issues with your hands, wrist and forearms.
It’s helpful to understand a thing or two about hand injuries when deciding whether you should see a specialist. To find out more about hand injuries and how to find a hand surgeon near you, keep reading.
What Can a Hand Surgeon Do for My Injury?
As society develops more ways to work and play and people live longer, people suffer from an increasing number of hand injuries. A hand surgeon is a general, orthopedic, plastic or surgeon who has specialized training regarding the treatment of hands.
Hand surgeons pursue an additional year of training and must pass challenging certification to work in their field.
If you seek treatment from a hand surgeon, that doesn’t mean that you must have surgery. Often, a hand surgeon will help you resolve many medical issues without the need for surgery. It’s a commonplace practice for a hand surgeon to suggest a non-surgical treatment plan.
However, they do have specialized training that will enable them to perform surgery if necessary. Hand surgeons are also experts in diagnosing problems with shoulders and elbows.
If you’re having issues with your hands, a hand surgeon can help. They spend an enormous amount of time examining, treating and studying the hands.
Hand surgeons have vast knowledge in physical and occupational therapy methods that can help to restore movement and eliminate pain in your hands. They are experts in the field.
If you have pain in your arm, fingers, hands, wrists or other upper extremities, you may want to schedule an appointment with a hand surgeon. Hand surgeons provide many kinds of treatments, including:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Creating fingers from toes and other joints
- Cuts on fingers and hands
- Sports injuries on fingers and hands
- Wrist pain
Also, some hand surgeons specialize in pediatrics, while others only treat adults. Still, others treat both children and adults.
How Does Hand Surgery Work?
The field of hand surgery covers many different kinds of injuries. A hand surgeon, for instance, will work to restore hand and finger function during treatment.
However, they will also try to make a patient’s hand look as healthy as possible after an injury. A patient may require reconstructive surgery for several reasons, including:
- Congenital disabilities
- Progressive deterioration
- Rheumatoid diseases
There are also many kinds of procedures that a hand surgeon may perform. For instance, a hand surgeon may perform skin grafts to reattach skin that’s missing from a patients’ hand. Patients frequently need this kind of surgery after a fingertip amputation or injury.
During a skin graft, the hand surgeon will take a piece of healthy skin from one area of the patient’s body. This area is called the donor site. They will then reattach the skin to the injured area and it will knit to the body naturally over time.
Other Hand Surgery Procedures
A hand surgeon might also perform a procedure called a skin flap. This kind of surgery is necessary for body parts that have an internal blood supply. In other words, the section of skin that the surgeon is treating includes structures such as blood vessels, fat and muscles.
Also, a hand surgeon might perform a closed reduction and fixation. Typically, the surgeon will perform this procedure after a bone fracture or broken bone in the hands or fingers.
During this procedure, the hand surgeon will realign the broken bone and then immobilize it so that it can heal. For example, the surgeon may use a cast, rods, splints or wires to hold the bone in place until it heals properly.
Tendon repair is another kind of procedure that a hand surgeon may perform. Tendons are fibers that join muscles and bones together.
The structure of tendons makes the procedure very difficult. Patients may need tendon surgery after infection, trauma or a sudden rupture.
How to Tell Whether You Need Hand Surgery
A hand fracture and an injury that required surgery are two very different ailments. As a patient, however, it’s hard to tell the difference.
When you experience a severe hand injury, you should contact a hand specialist immediately. Consulting with a hand surgeon is the only way to know for sure what you should do next.
A hand surgeon will evaluate your injury during an exam by looking for signs of damage. For example, the doctor will check to see if the bones in your hand are unstable. If they are, this may indicate a compound fracture.
The hand doctor will also check to see if the bones are piercing your skin. Also, the doctor will evaluate whether you’ve shattered the bones in your hand.
During the exam, the hand specialist doctor will also assess the positioning of your fingers. Additionally, they’ll check the range of motion of your fingers.
As the exam progresses, the hand surgeon will check your fingers for numbness. Finally, they’ll perform x-rays to verify their initial assessment.
If the doctor determines that your hand is injured, rather than fractured, they may suggest surgery. Surgical interventions may include the implantation of wires, plates or screws to hold the bones in your hand in place while they heal.
Every injury is different. There’s no way to tell what will happen before an exam. Accordingly, you must schedule an appointment so that a hand surgeon can recommend the next steps.
Beginning Your Search for a Qualified Hand Surgeon
Hand injuries require specialized care. In your hands, there are many complex structures and mechanics that require special attention after an injury. A hand surgeon has training in providing this level of complex care.
You shouldn’t feel intimidated by the idea of visiting with a hand surgeon. It’s not the goal of the doctor to admit you to surgery. Instead, it’s their objective to figure out the best way to help you heal.
A hand surgeon can guide you through treatment decisions. By taking advantage of the expertise of a hand surgeon, you can recover or preserve the function of your hands after an injury.
Choosing a hand surgeon is a critical decision. Begin your quest to find a qualified hand surgeon by asking for referrals. For example, you can ask your friends, family members or other healthcare providers for recommendations.
You can also do online research. Try a site like HealthGrades.com to find out what other people think about hand surgeons in your area.
In addition to reading reviews, check hand surgeons’ credentials on HealthGrades.com. Make sure that a potential hand specialist is accredited and experienced in treating hand injuries.
Board certification characteristic to consider but not necissary when you’re looking for a hand surgeon. A hand surgeon with proper certification has received adequate training and experience to provide top-notch treatment.
Also, check your state’s licensing website. On the site, you can check to make sure that a potential hand surgeon doesn’t have a history of malpractice claims or disciplinary actions.
Experience is another crucial characteristic to consider during your research. When it comes to surgery, more experience is better. Also, it’s highly advisable to find a hand surgeon with experience treating your specific kind of injury.
Meeting in Person: Plan Your Interview Questions
Now, it’s time to interview potential candidates. Once you shorten your list down to a handful of potential providers, start making phone calls. Ask for an initial consultation and an opportunity to meet with and interview the surgeon.
A hand doctor with a track record of successful surgeries is more likely to succeed in delivering a successful outcome. During the interview, ask the hand surgeon how many patients they have treated successfully. Also, ask the hand surgeons about how many surgeries they perform each month as well as their specific practice areas.
You should also find out if a potential care provider uses the latest medical best practices and tools. Ideally, you want to choose a hand surgeon that’s up-to-date with the latest medical equipment and techniques.
Finally, ask your potential hand surgeon how long they think it will take you to recover. It’s difficult for a surgeon to predict recovery time in advance.
What’s more important, however, is that they have a plan to help you recover. When you ask about recovery time, you want to assess whether the surgeon works with a team of physical therapists that will help you recover as soon as possible.
Minimally Invasive Surgery: One More Thing to Consider
As you narrow down your list of potential candidates, there are a few more questions that you should ask. For instance, find out if your potential hand surgeon uses minimally invasive methods.
Minimally invasive surgery encompasses the use of smaller incisions. Because the incisions are smaller, recovery time is usually faster.
Minimally invasive surgery is not appropriate for every injury. However, your surgeon should know about minimally invasive techniques if they are available to treat your injury.
How Do I Find the Good Hand Surgeon Near Me?
Should your hand doctor recommend hand surgery and you decide to proceed, it’s always best to look for a specialist. However, you don’t want just any specialist. Look for a hand surgeon who specializes in your specific kind of injury.
It’s better to work with a hand surgeon that routinely performs the exact surgery that you need. This same concept applies to any procedure.
If you need a new knee, for instance, you won’t pick a doctor who’s a general surgeon. You’ll look for someone who specializes in replacing knees.
When it comes to surgeries, practice is everything. Experienced surgeons tend to produce better patient outcomes.
Surgery outcomes do vary depending on patients’ overall health and how frequently they need surgery. However, you can improve your odds of a successful procedure by choosing an experienced hand surgeon.
You could look for top specialists by searching for hospitals that perform the kind of surgery that you need. However, no research is better than a word-of-mouth referral. It’s always better to talk to doctors and patients who have real-world experience with a potential surgeon.
There is, however, one exception to this guideline. Sometimes, an injury is a part of a complex medical condition, such as cancer.
In this case, you may want to find a medical center where you can receive treatment from multiple specialists who work together as a team. For example, if you need treatment for a malignant tumor in your hand, you’d want to work with an oncologist and hand specialist doctor who will work together to coordinate your treatment.
Don’t Wait: Take the First Step Toward Recovery Today
You can recover from any hand injuries with ice, rest and time. You should never ignore consistent long-term pain in your hands. If you have pain or frequent flare-ups in the same area of your hand, you should make an appointment with a hand surgeon.
Hand Surgery Specialists of Texas can help you find treatment options that will return as much function to your hand as possible. If treatments fail, then we can perform hand surgery to help you regain a quality of life that you may not have experienced in years.
Our specialists can provide comprehensive care for injuries that affect the area from your fingertips to your shoulders. Contact us today for an appointment and take the first step toward recovering from uncomfortable or even debilitating hand injuries.