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I have a swollen bicep and the bicep is bulging out to the right. This happened 2 weeks ago and although the swelling is less, it is still there. It began with a pain in my shoulder which went down...View full Conversation
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Who is a Hand Surgeon?
A Hand Surgeon specializes in the diagnosis, care, and surgical treatment of all the problems related to our hand, wrist, and forearm. Our hands require sensation and movement such as joint motion, tendon gliding and muscle contraction to help us accomplish our daily activities like cleaning, eating, dressing, writing, as well as earning a living.
If you are experiencing a repetitive pain or even a little repetitious contraction in any part of your hand – be it a finger, palm, wrist, elbow, or shoulders – you should immediately consult a Hand Surgeon. Although specially trained to operate when necessary, Hand Surgeons usually prefer to care for these hand problems without surgery.
What Does it Take to Become a Hand Surgeon?
After completing a regular four years bachelor’s degree at any university, a student has to get enrolled for another four years of medical education to become an Orthopedic Specialist. Once qualified as an Orthopedist, s/he will have to further be licensed in a one year residency program to become a Hand Surgeon.
In addition, it is also mandated to obtain a state licensure certification to acquire specialty for conducting the surgical treatment of hands.
What Does A Hand Surgeon Do?
Hand surgeon is a subspecialty of Orthopedic as well as Plastic surgery, focusing on care and surgical procedures of wrist, fingers, forearm, elbows, and shoulders. There are different types of surgical procedures that can be performed on the hand, depending on the underlying cause of the problem.
Here are some of the common types of surgery that a Hand Surgeon perform:
Closed reduction and fixation: This procedure is done to realign the fractured bone and immobilize the area during the healing phase. A surgeon may use internal fixtures, such as with wires, rods, splints, and casts for immobilizing the affected area. These fixtures maybe removed later, after the damage gets restored.
Tendon repair: At times various injuries occur in the tendon (fibers that attach muscle to the bones) of your hand due to infection, trauma, or spontaneous rupture. A hand surgeon may perform a surgery to repair these tendons – either practicing tendon grafts (inserting tendons from other areas of the body in place of the damaged tendon) or using any other complex procedures.
Nerve repairs: Three main nerves - the ulnar nerve, the median nerve, and the radial nerve – innervate our hand. An injury to any of these nerve may require a surgical procedure. At times, a hand surgeon may also perform a mild surgery of the affected area in order to investigate the damaged nerve.
Surgical drainage and/or debridement: Our hands more often remain at risk for catching any infection. If any infections leads to the accumulation of pus, a surgical drainage may be performed to help remove the pus and cleanse the wound. This is procedure is utilized only if the infection or wound is severe.
Joint replacement/arthroplasty: This procedure is usually practiced in people with severe arthritis of the hand. An artificial joint made out of either metal, plastic, silicone rubber, or the patient's own body tissue (such as a tendon) is replaced at the destroyed area to help patients regain their hand mobility.
When Should I See a Hand Surgeon?
A primary healthcare provider will usually refer you to a Hand Surgeon if any injury in the muscle or bones of your wrist, finger bones, elbow or shoulder is suspected. Below are some of the conditions that often require or benefit from hand surgical treatment:
Hand and Wrist Arthritis: For patients whose hand and wrist joints have become severely degraded due to arthritis, a reconstructive surgery to remove damaged tissue and cartilage and restore pain-free function is often recommended.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Those who overuse their wrist or put repetitive, excess pressure on their hands and wrist – maybe due to their work or lifestyle need – are prone to carpal tunnel syndrome. In CTS one may suffer from the inflammation, compression, and pressure on the median nerve within their carpal tunnel of the wrist and further feel chronic pain, numbness, and weakness. In such critical condition a surgical treatment of hand may be advised to reduce pressure on the median nerve.
Ganglion Cyst: These are small tumors of swollen tissue that form on the joints of the hands and wrists, or at the bases of the fingers. If these tumors do not disappear with nonsurgical treatment, a surgery may be done to remove the cyst.
Dupuytren’s Contracture: When the connective tissue beneath the palm and the tendons of the hand gets thicken, leading to permanent over-flexing of the affected hand, a surgical procedure known as a fasciotomy, is utilized to treat the contractures.
Compound Wrist Fractures: When the broken wrists do not get effectively treated with nonsurgical methods, such as casts and bracing or if a compound fracture occurs thus fragmenting the bone, a surgical procedure will be performed.
Compound Hand Fractures: In the hand injuries that leave the bone severely displaced, different types of internal fixtures such as screws, wires, or plates is surgically implanted in order to stabilize the damaged bone.
In most of the above listed cases, a hand surgeon will consider surgical approach only if all the other conservative methods doesn’t work. You can discuss your condition with an online Hand Surgeon to understand about the right procedure required for your problem.
What Kinds of Tests Does a Hand Surgeon Perform or Recommend?
Hand surgeons perform a thorough evaluation to determine the most appropriate form of treatment for your hands’ musculoskeletal condition or injury. The evaluation process will cover:
Medical History: S/he will assess your complete medical history to know about any underlying medical conditions such as arthritis or diabetes, or about the medications you take, or about any allergies you face with certain medications/substances like latex. Similarly, the surgeon will also ask about your pain such as where you feel pain, what type of pain you have, how often it hurts, how severe your pain is, and whether or not pain is preventing you from handling your daily activities, etc. Further to this, s/he will enquire about any past injuries or pain.
Physical Tests: A surgeon will most likely conduct few physical tests to check your hand’s flexibility, range of motion, and reflexes. S/he will also examine the affected area to find out any visible symptoms of a condition such as lumps, asymmetrical swelling, bulges in your fingers and hand joints spine, and mottled or bruised skin, just to name a few. After inspecting the affected area, a surgeon may list few more evaluation tests for an accurate diagnosis.
Imaging Test: To get more in-depth information on the affected area, a hand surgeon may recommend certain types of imaging tests such as X-rays or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). These tests will provide him/her with detailed images and information on your condition and help them spot any signs of swelling, infection, or displacement.
What Questions Should I Ask a Hand Surgeon?
You may consult an online Hand Surgeon to ask these types of questions:
• How long is recovery from hand surgery?
• What can I expect after hand surgery?
• Do you have to be put under for hand surgery?
• How successful is hand surgery for arthritis?
• Can I drive after hand surgery?
• How do you sleep after hand surgery?
• What can you eat after hand surgery?
• Is it illegal to drive with a cast on your hand?
• What kind of anesthesia is used for hand surgery?
Why should I consult a Hand Surgeon online at HCM?
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