The hand is highly complex, made up of multiple joints, different types of ligaments, nerves, and tendons that can develop a range of disorders or suffer several kinds of injuries. With 27 bones in the hand and eight in the wrist, the hands require doctors who are dedicated to its complexity and the various conditions that can develop, which are known as orthopedic hand specialists.
What is an Orthopedic Hand Specialist?
Orthopedics is an area of medicine dedicated to the musculoskeletal structure in the body, which encompasses all the muscles, bones, and supportive structures and tissues in the body. Hand specialist doctors are those focused on the musculoskeletal structure of the hands and are a subtype of orthopedic doctors, often able to provide orthopedic hand surgery as well as non-surgical treatments and diagnosing disorders.
Conditions Hand Specialists Provide Care For
Hand specialists can diagnose and provide care for several hand and wrist conditions, including:
Medically known as stenosing tenosynovitis, the condition causes stiffness, pain, and a locking sensation when the finger is being bent or straightened. The direct cause of trigger finger isn’t known, but factors like diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and the forceful use of fingers and thumbs are known factors.
A common hand condition that develops when a major nerve in the hand is squeezed or compressed in the wrist. If left untreated, carpal tunnel worsens over time and develops into a permanent dysfunction that causes loss of sensation in the fingers and weakness in the hand.
This is a type of overuse injury of the thumb, though it can also be caused by rheumatoid arthritis. The tendons that run alongside the wrist and attach to the base of the thumb begin to swell, specifically where they are constricted by the sheath they run through from the wrist to the hand.
Medically known as basal joint arthritis, symptoms include pain at the base of the thumb and is the second most common type of hand arthritis. The condition can develop due to age or overuse.
Injuries like dislocations, fractures, and injuries that affect the soft tissues, tendons, or ligaments all fall within this category. They can be caused by a variety of circumstances and incidents, from playing sports to being involved in a car accident, even during regular household activities.
Orthopedic Treatments for Hand Conditions
Orthopedic hand specialists provide both non-surgical care and hand surgery. Hand specialists will often begin with a conservative approach unless the injury or condition requires surgery, such as with some fractures. Below is a list of common non-surgical treatments that are commonly recommended for different injuries:
Types of Hand Surgery
When conservative approaches to care don’t alleviate symptoms or help heal the condition, orthopedic hand specialists may recommend surgery. If qualified as an orthopedic surgeon, your doctor may perform it themself or recommend a surgeon to you. Below is a list of common hand surgeries: