Do You Need Hand Surgery? 7 Ways to Tell

hand surgery

When it comes to work or play, your hands are always there to help you.

Until you’ve experienced problems due to hand injury or other diseases, then you might not realize just how much you use them. Your hands help you do almost anything, so it’s important to take good care of them.

If you’re experiencing issues with your hands, you might consider getting hand surgery. But how do you know if you really need it?

You should look out for these 7 signs that you might need hand surgery.

1. Non-Surgical Treatments Aren’t Working

Before ever considering surgery, you should try to non-surgical options.

Some examples of non-surgical options include resting your hands, splints, occupational therapy, physical therapy, medications such as anti-inflammatories, and exercises. Your doctor can recommend the appropriate non surgical treatments for your diagnosis.

While some individuals might find relief with these treatments, you might not. If you feel like you’ve tried everything and you’re not getting results, then it may be a sign that you need surgery.

In that situation, you should see a hand specialist that will be able to assess your condition and give you some options. You’ll have a chance to talk with them about the process and make sure that you feel comfortable with it.

2. You Can’t Perform Daily Tasks

One indicator that you might need hand surgery is that you have trouble carrying on with daily tasks, what we refer to as “activities of daily living.”

For example, you may drop items while you’re holding them (and not even realize it.)   A common occurance with advanced carpal tunnel syndrome. Or maybe you have trouble squeezing bottles, starting a car engine or opening jars.  A common occurence with arthritis of the hand.

These are all indicators that you’re having problems with your hands.

If you think that surgery might be in order, you should speak with your doctor. They’ll be able to perform tests to determine how bad your situation is.

When you determine that surgery is the right thing to do, you can use these daily tasks to assess your progress. It will help you to see whether the surgery has worked for you once you’re fully healed.

If you find your hands failing you throughout the day, surgery might be your best option.

3. You’ve Had An Injury

Accidents can happen fast. You could be working away in the garden and accidentally hit your finger. Or you could be carrying that heavy box at work that lands on your hand the wrong way.

If you have an injury that’s considered to be an emergency, then you’ll likely find yourself in surgery quickly. This could include injuries like breaks or shattered bones.

But if you didn’t undergo surgery right away, it could be a sign that you may need it later on.

Your need for surgery is often based on where the hand injury is and how severe it is.

If there’s a deformity due to the injury, then you can be sure that surgery might be in order. This can also apply if the hand didn’t heal the correct way.

In most cases of injuries, you’ll be treated with splints or casts to help you heal. But you may need surgery for any of the above issues or if new problems arise because of it.

Not sure if your injury needs surgical correction? You should always consult your doctor for the best guidance.

4. You Have Pain

Pain can affect your quality of life. It’s not enjoyable to live with constant or recurring pain.

Hand pain has many different causes. This includes medical conditions or nerve issues that can make the pain unbearable.

If you’re experiencing pain, you might feel it upon moving your hands or fingers. It can also occur without movement in some cases.

Before ever considering surgery, you should first try some other pain management options. You can use medications or therapy to try and eliminate the pain that you’re experiencing.

If the pain starts to go away or you find it manageable, this is a great sign that the treatment is working. In this case, you might not need hand surgery.

But if you’re not seeing improvements with your pain, you could be a great candidate for hand surgery.

As always, it’s important to talk with your doctor about this before going ahead. They’ll be able to assess your pain and determine whether surgery will help to relieve it.

Do you avoid certain activities, or is your hand pain waking you up out of your sleep? If so, these are big indicators that surgery might be the best option for you.

5. You Feel Numb or Tingling

One scary symptom of hand issues is numbness or tingling. While pain is distressing, a lack of feeling in your hand can be especially worrisome.

This sensation is usually caused by carpal tunnel syndrome, but other diseases can cause this also.

Think about the sensations that you feel in your hands. Does the tingling make it hard for you to complete daily activities? Are you woken up out of your sleep at night due to the numbness?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then it’s affecting your quality of life.

As always, your first options should always be non-surgical. In the case of numbness and tingling, you have a few of these options to try.

The first is to try using a splint. This allows your hand to be at ease so that your joints can find some relief.

Steroid injections are another great option to try. Injections go straight to the root of the problem and can provide some temporary relief. The only downside is that they are only temporary, so you’ll need to get another shot once the first wears off.

Your last option is surgery. If those options aren’t giving you the results you need, then you may consider hand surgery.

Most patients who have surgery for these reasons see immediate relief from the tingling after the procedure. The numbness will take a little longer to resolve itself.

However, a small group of patients who have gone with hand surgery for these issues did not get relief from it at all. When going into the procedure, you should keep this in mind.

It’s important to discuss this with your doctor to make sure that you’re fully ready to go this route.

6. You Have a Limited Range of Motion

Your fingers and thumbs should move freely without pain or discomfort. If they don’t, it can be a problem. This is often be caused by inflammation or swelling.

There are a few ways you can check your hand’s range of motion.

One great way to test it is by making an “OK” sign with your hands. Your index finger and thumb should form an “O” shape, not a flattened shape.

You should also be able to make a fist. It should close easily and without problems.

If you have trouble doing any of these maneuvers, then you might need to seek treatment.

You can start out by trying some hand exercises under the recommendation of your doctor. Often, this will help you to extend your range of motion and take back your ability to use your hands better.

If these treatments don’t help you improve your range of motion, then surgery might be worth it.

7. You Have a Condition that Affects Your Hands

Your hands can be affected by conditions and diseases in different ways. Some issues can target your tendons while others can affect your nerves.

They can be caused by anything from injuries to birth deformities. Luckily, many of these problems can be addressed through surgery. Here’s a bit of information on a few of these conditions.


Arthritis is very common for patients to experience. It can cause your hands to swell up and it can be very painful to live with.

While it can occur over time, it isn’t uncommon for it to also occur after an injury.

There are also a few types of this disease. Osteoarthritis is common to find in older individuals. Rheumatic arthritis is a type that specifically targets your joints.

If you’re experiencing pain and swelling, you might be dealing with some type of arthritis.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Remember the tingling mentioned earlier? This is a common symptom of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Certain movements can trigger this sensation. It can also cause your hands to suddenly feel weak.

This condition can start from other diseases or it can come from doing repetitive movements. Being such a painful and difficult issue, some patients may benefit from hand surgery to treat it.


As the name suggests, tendinopathies are diseases that affect your hand’s tendons. There’s a range of different symptoms associated with these problems.

Patients with this issue often have inflamed or torn tendons. In some cases, your tendons can tighten up and make it difficult to move.

Usually, surgery is not necessary in the case of tendinopathies. But if you have some severe symptoms, this could mean that you might need to undergo hand tendon surgery.

Nerve Damage

Nerve damage can often occur within your hand or wrist. Sometimes this condition can come and go on its own. This is usually the case when it’s managed through the use of medication.

If the damage is chronic, surgery might be your best option for getting relief. The purpose of the surgery is to relieve the pressure on the nerve so that you can gain the movement back in your hand.

Trigger Finger

Living with a trigger finger caused by a disease or injury can be difficult. This condition often occurs when the tendon in the finger becomes inflamed. When this occurs, it can be painful and uncomfortable.

It can be corrected with a surgery called tenolysis. This procedure corrects the tendon and allows your finger to move properly again.


Most conditions mentioned above are often treated or managed through non-surgical methods. This can include things like exercising, using splints, or taking medication. Therapy is also a great way to treat these conditions.

Always be sure to try all non-surgical options first to see if you get any relief from them.

Even after surgery, you’ll still find yourself using many of these non-surgical treatments. Hand surgery is meant to help restore your functions and reduce your pain. But during the healing process, regular non-surgical treatment can still help. Therapy and medications are also great for helping you manage any pain post-surgery.

If you think that you’re done with them, you’ll likely still use them after surgery as well.

Can I Benefit From Hand Surgery?

Have you experienced any of the signs that have been mentioned above? If you have you could be a good candidate for hand surgery. As always, you need to check with your doctor and visit a specialist.

Hand surgery can give you many benefits that some non-surgical treatments cannot. For example, it can give you a much better range of motion that exercises may not be able to give you.

This is one of the best benefits of getting hand surgery. The feeling of relief from pain and discomfort is priceless.

Seeking treatment quickly means that you will have a better chance to catch the problem before it gets any worse. With most hand conditions, they worsen over time rather than get better.

If you’ve decided that hand surgery is the right decision for you, it’s important to find a qualified specialist to help you.

Watch for the Signs

Now that you know what to look out for, you know when it may be time to visit a hand specialist. They’ll be able to guide you on whether hand surgery is the right option for you.

At Hand Surgery Specialists of Texas, we’re prepared to help you take care of your hands. We have several licensed and qualified physicians that can help you in the Houston area. We can treat a variety of hand conditions that hold you back from living your life to the fullest.

Are you looking into the possibility of getting hand surgery? Book an appointment with one of our experienced physicians today!

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Houston Wrist Pain Specialists Hoth

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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, Webster, North Houston, Katy/Sugarland, or Baytown

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