Hand and Wrist Surgery

What is Hand and Wrist Surgery?

Hand and wrist surgery is a specialized medical field that focuses on the diagnosis, treatment, and surgical management of various conditions and injuries affecting the hand and wrist. This field is typically practiced by orthopedic surgeons or plastic surgeons with additional training in hand and upper extremity surgery. Hand and wrist surgery encompasses a wide range of conditions and procedures, including:

  1. Fractures and Dislocations: Hand and wrist surgeons treat fractures and dislocations of the bones in the hand and wrist, often caused by accidents, sports injuries, or falls.
  2. Arthritis: Arthritis in the hand and wrist can be due to various types of arthritis, including osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Surgical procedures may be necessary to relieve pain and improve joint function.
  3. Tendon and Ligament Injuries: Injuries to the tendons and ligaments of the hand and wrist can result from trauma or overuse. Surgery may be required to repair or reconstruct these structures.
  4. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: This condition involves compression of the median nerve in the wrist, leading to pain, numbness, and weakness in the hand. Surgery (carpal tunnel release) can alleviate symptoms.
  5. Dupuytren’s Contracture: This condition causes the fingers to bend toward the palm due to the thickening of the tissue under the skin of the palm. Surgical procedures can correct this condition.
  6. Nerve Compression Syndromes: Conditions such as cubital tunnel syndrome (compression of the ulnar nerve) and radial tunnel syndrome may require surgical intervention to relieve pressure on nerves.
  7. Ganglion Cysts: Ganglion cysts are fluid-filled sacs that can develop on the wrist and hand. Surgeons can remove these cysts if they cause pain or discomfort.
  8. Tumors and Masses: Hand and wrist surgeons may remove benign or malignant tumors and masses found in the hand and wrist.
  9. Congenital Hand Anomalies: Surgeons can address congenital hand deformities in children through corrective procedures.
  10. Reconstructive Surgery: Trauma, burns, or other injuries may necessitate reconstructive surgery to restore function and appearance to the hand and wrist.

Hand and wrist surgery can involve various surgical techniques, including open surgery, minimally invasive procedures, and arthroscopy. The choice of surgical approach depends on the specific condition and the individual patient’s needs.

Patients with hand and wrist issues typically begin their treatment with non-surgical interventions, such as medication, physical therapy, or immobilization, before considering surgery. Hand and wrist surgeons aim to improve function, reduce pain, and enhance the quality of life for their patients by providing the most appropriate and effective surgical solutions for their conditions.

When is Hand and Wrist Surgery is a Good Option?

Hand and wrist surgery may be considered a good option in a variety of situations when conservative (non-surgical) treatments have proven to be ineffective or when a condition or injury requires surgical intervention. The decision to pursue hand and wrist surgery is typically made in consultation with a qualified hand and wrist surgeon, who will assess the specific circumstances and provide recommendations. Here are some common scenarios in which hand and wrist surgery is a good option:

  1. Severe Fractures: When bones in the hand and wrist are severely fractured or displaced, surgery may be necessary to realign the bones and stabilize them with screws, plates, or other fixation devices.
  2. Chronic Pain: Persistent and debilitating pain in the hand or wrist, which does not respond to conservative treatments like rest, medication, or physical therapy, may indicate the need for surgery to address the underlying cause.
  3. Tendon or Ligament Injuries: In cases of complete tendon or ligament tears, surgery may be required to repair or reconstruct the damaged structures, restoring proper function and strength.
  4. Nerve Compression Syndromes: Conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome, cubital tunnel syndrome, and radial tunnel syndrome can cause numbness, tingling, and weakness. Surgery, such as carpal tunnel release, may be recommended to relieve pressure on the affected nerves.
  5. Joint Arthritis: When arthritis in the hand and wrist becomes severe and significantly impairs joint function, surgical procedures like joint fusion or joint replacement may be considered to reduce pain and improve mobility.
  6. Dupuytren’s Contracture: Surgery is often recommended when this condition leads to finger contractures that limit hand function.
  7. Ganglion Cysts: Surgical removal of ganglion cysts may be recommended when they are painful, cause limited joint motion, or if they keep reoccurring.
  8. Congenital Anomalies: Children born with congenital hand deformities may benefit from surgical correction to improve hand function and appearance.
  9. Trauma and Reconstructive Surgery: After traumatic injuries, burns, or amputations, reconstructive surgery can help restore hand and wrist function and appearance.
  10. Tumors and Masses: Surgical removal may be necessary to address benign or malignant tumors and masses in the hand and wrist.

It’s important to note that hand and wrist surgery is typically considered after a thorough evaluation by a hand and wrist specialist. The decision to proceed with surgery depends on the individual’s specific condition, its severity, the patient’s overall health, and their treatment goals. Surgeons will discuss the potential risks and benefits of the procedure with the patient and ensure they have a clear understanding of what to expect before making a decision. In many cases, conservative treatments are attempted first, and surgery is considered when these treatments do not provide adequate relief or functional improvement.

Consultation and Preparation

Consultation and preparation for hand and wrist surgery are crucial steps in ensuring a successful outcome and a smooth recovery. Here’s a general overview of what to expect during the consultation and preparation process:

  1. Referral and Scheduling:
    • You may be referred to a hand and wrist surgeon by your primary care physician or another specialist.
    • Contact the surgeon’s office to schedule a consultation.
  2. Medical History and Examination:
    • During the initial consultation, your surgeon will take a detailed medical history, including information about your hand or wrist condition, any previous treatments, and your overall health.
    • A physical examination of the affected hand and wrist will be performed to assess the extent of the problem.
  3. Diagnostic Tests:
    • In some cases, diagnostic tests such as X-rays, MRIs, or ultrasound scans may be ordered to get a better understanding of the condition and to help plan the surgical procedure.
  4. Discussion and Informed Consent:
    • Your surgeon will discuss the diagnosis, treatment options, and the proposed surgical procedure.
    • You will have an opportunity to ask questions and discuss any concerns.
    • You will be asked to provide informed consent, indicating that you understand the risks and benefits of the surgery.
  5. Preoperative Instructions:
    • Your surgeon will provide you with detailed preoperative instructions, which may include dietary restrictions, medication adjustments, and guidelines on when to stop eating and drinking before the surgery.
  6. Anesthesia Consultation:
    • If the surgery requires anesthesia, you may have a separate consultation with an anesthesiologist to discuss the type of anesthesia to be used and your medical history.
  7. Medications:
    • You may be asked to adjust or discontinue certain medications before surgery. It’s important to inform your surgeon about all medications, supplements, and allergies.
  8. Smoking and Alcohol:
    • If you smoke, your surgeon may recommend quitting or at least reducing smoking, as it can affect the healing process.
    • Excessive alcohol consumption should also be minimized.
  9. Fasting:
    • Typically, you will be instructed to fast for a specific period before the surgery to prevent complications related to anesthesia.
  10. Planning for Post-Surgery Care:
    • Arrange for a responsible adult to accompany you to the surgery center and drive you home after the procedure.
    • Make necessary arrangements for assistance with daily activities during the initial recovery period.
  11. Preoperative Tests:
    • Depending on your health and the type of surgery, your surgeon may order additional preoperative tests, such as blood work or an electrocardiogram (ECG).
  12. Compression Garments or Dressings:
    • Your surgeon may provide instructions regarding wearing compression garments or dressings to help with swelling and support after surgery.
  13. Preparing Your Home:
    • Ensure your home is organized and set up for a comfortable and safe recovery.
    • Remove any obstacles or hazards that could pose a risk.
  14. Postoperative Care Instructions:
    • Discuss postoperative care, including wound care, pain management, and physical therapy or rehabilitation, if necessary.
  15. Recovery and Support:
    • Arrange for someone to assist you during the immediate postoperative period.
    • Plan for time off work or other daily responsibilities during your recovery.

It’s essential to follow your surgeon’s instructions diligently to prepare for hand and wrist surgery. By doing so, you can help minimize potential risks, enhance your comfort during recovery, and increase the likelihood of a successful outcome. Always communicate openly with your surgical team and voice any concerns or questions you may have throughout the process.

Questions you Should Ask your Physician About Hand and Wrist Surgery

When preparing for hand and wrist surgery, it’s important to have a clear understanding of the procedure, its potential risks and benefits, and the expected outcomes.

To ensure you are well-informed and make the best decisions about your surgery, consider asking your physician or surgeon the following questions:

  1. What is the diagnosis and the specific condition that requires surgery?
    • Understanding the underlying condition helps you comprehend the purpose of the surgery.
  2. What are the available treatment options, and why is surgery recommended in this case?
    • Explore non-surgical alternatives and learn why surgery is the best choice.
  3. What is the goal of the surgery?
    • Discuss the expected outcomes and how the surgery will improve your hand or wrist function.
  4. What are the potential risks and complications associated with the surgery?
    • Gain a clear understanding of the risks involved and the likelihood of complications.
  5. What is the success rate of this procedure for my specific condition?
    • Inquire about the surgery’s effectiveness for your diagnosis.
  6. What is the expected recovery time, and what should I expect during the recovery period?
    • Understand the timeline for healing and the post-operative care you will require.
  7. What type of anesthesia will be used, and what are the associated risks?
    • Discuss the anesthesia options and any potential side effects or risks.
  8. Will I have visible scarring, and if so, how can it be minimized?
    • Ask about scarring and any potential measures to reduce its appearance.
  9. What are the pre-operative preparations I should make, such as medication adjustments or dietary restrictions?
    • Ensure you follow any necessary preparations for a successful surgery.
  10. What is the expected length of the surgery, and will it be done as an outpatient procedure or require an overnight stay?
    • Learn about the logistics of the surgery itself.
  11. Will there be any implants or hardware used during the surgery, and how will they affect me long-term?
    • If implants are used, inquire about their permanence and potential future issues.
  12. What are the long-term effects of the surgery, and will there be any ongoing restrictions or considerations after recovery?
    • Understand how the surgery will impact your daily life in the long term.
  13. Are there any specific lifestyle changes or adaptations I should consider after the surgery?
    • Discuss any adjustments you may need to make in your daily activities.
  14. What is the expected level of pain, and how will it be managed post-surgery?
    • Understand the pain management plan and any prescribed medications.
  15. How often will follow-up appointments be required, and what will they involve?
    • Stay informed about the follow-up schedule and the purpose of these appointments.
  16. Are there any specific questions or concerns I should discuss with the anesthesiologist or other members of the surgical team before the procedure?
    • Ensure you communicate any pertinent information or concerns with the surgical team.
  17. What is the surgeon’s experience and success rate with this type of surgery?
    • It’s important to know the surgeon’s expertise in performing the procedure.
  18. Can you provide any patient education materials or resources about the surgery and recovery process?
    • Request written or online resources to reinforce your understanding of the surgery.

By asking these questions, you can make well-informed decisions about your hand and wrist surgery, understand what to expect during the process, and have confidence in your treatment plan. It’s important to maintain open communication with your healthcare team throughout the surgical journey.

Surgery Process

The hand and wrist surgery process involves several key steps, from the initial consultation to postoperative care and recovery.

Here’s an overview of the typical process:

  1. Consultation and Evaluation:
    • The process begins with a consultation with a hand and wrist surgeon. During this appointment, the surgeon assesses your condition, discusses your symptoms, and reviews any diagnostic tests (such as X-rays or MRI scans).
    • The surgeon and patient discuss treatment options, potential risks, and expected outcomes.
  2. Preoperative Preparation:
    • If you and your surgeon decide that surgery is the best course of action, you’ll receive detailed preoperative instructions, which may include dietary restrictions and medication adjustments.
    • You may also be advised to stop eating and drinking for a specified time before the surgery, typically starting the night before the procedure.
  3. Anesthesia:
    • On the day of surgery, you will meet with the anesthesiologist to discuss the type of anesthesia to be used. Common options include local anesthesia, regional anesthesia, or general anesthesia, depending on the specific procedure and your medical condition.
  4. Surgical Procedure:
    • Hand and wrist surgery can vary significantly based on the condition being treated. Common procedures include:
    • Fracture repair
    • Tendon or ligament repair
    • Carpal tunnel release
    • Joint fusion or replacement
    • Nerve decompression
    • Tumor removal
    • The surgeon will make incisions as necessary and perform the procedure with precision.
  5. Monitoring and Recovery:
    • After surgery, you’ll be closely monitored in a recovery area until you are awake and stable.
    • You may have a bandage or dressing over the surgical site, which is designed to protect the wound and control swelling.
  6. Postoperative Care:
    • The surgeon or nursing staff will provide instructions for postoperative care. This typically includes:
    • Wound care: How to clean and care for the surgical site.
    • Pain management: Medication to manage pain and discomfort.
    • Compression garments or splints: To support and immobilize the hand or wrist, as needed.
    • Activity restrictions: Guidance on which activities to avoid during the initial recovery phase.
  7. Recovery and Rehabilitation:
    • Depending on the surgery, you may be referred to a physical therapist for rehabilitation. This helps restore hand and wrist function and strength.
    • Follow your surgeon’s recommendations for follow-up appointments and any necessary tests to monitor your progress.
  8. Return to Normal Activities:
    • The timeline for returning to normal activities, including work and daily routines, varies depending on the type of surgery and individual healing. Your surgeon will provide guidance.
  9. Long-Term Follow-Up:
    • Hand and wrist surgeries may require long-term follow-up care to monitor the surgical site and assess the overall outcome.
  10. Complications and Concerns:
    • If you experience unusual pain, swelling, redness, fever, or any other concerning symptoms during your recovery, contact your surgeon promptly.

The specific details of the hand and wrist surgery process can vary widely depending on the type of surgery and the patient’s individual needs. It’s essential to follow your surgeon’s instructions and attend all follow-up appointments to ensure the best possible outcome. Additionally, maintaining good communication with your healthcare team throughout the process is crucial for a successful recovery.

Risks and Safety

Hand and wrist surgery, like any surgical procedure, carries certain risks and safety considerations. It’s important for patients to be aware of these risks and for healthcare providers to take appropriate precautions to minimize them.

Here are some of the potential risks and safety measures associated with hand and wrist surgery:


  1. Infection: Surgical sites are susceptible to infection. Surgeons take precautions to minimize this risk, such as sterilizing instruments and maintaining a sterile operating environment.
  2. Bleeding: During and after surgery, there is a risk of bleeding, both internally and externally. Surgeons may use sutures, cauterization, or other methods to control bleeding.
  3. Anesthesia Complications: Anesthesia carries risks, including allergic reactions, respiratory problems, and adverse reactions to medications. Anesthesiologists carefully assess a patient’s health to reduce these risks.
  4. Nerve and Blood Vessel Damage: In some cases, there is a risk of inadvertently damaging nerves or blood vessels during surgery. Surgeons take great care to identify and protect these structures.
  5. Scarring: Surgical incisions can lead to scarring. The extent of scarring can vary depending on factors like the surgical technique and the individual’s healing process.
  6. Functional Changes: Depending on the type of surgery, there may be a risk of changes in hand or wrist function. This risk is typically discussed with the patient before surgery.
  7. Pain and Discomfort: Postoperative pain and discomfort are common. Surgeons prescribe pain medication and provide instructions for pain management.
  8. Complications Specific to the Procedure: Certain procedures have unique risks. For example, carpal tunnel release surgery carries a small risk of nerve injury or recurrence of symptoms.
  9. Delayed Healing or Non-Union: In some cases, bones may not heal properly, leading to delayed healing or non-union. This risk is assessed and managed by the surgeon.
  10. Infection at the Surgical Site: Infection at the surgical site is a potential risk, but antibiotics and proper wound care can help mitigate this risk.

Safety Measures:

  1. Patient Evaluation: Surgeons conduct a thorough evaluation of the patient’s overall health, medical history, and any underlying conditions that may impact the surgery or anesthesia.
  2. Informed Consent: Patients must provide informed consent before surgery, indicating that they understand the risks and benefits and agree to proceed.
  3. Sterile Environment: Surgery is performed in a sterile operating room to reduce the risk of infection.
  4. Experienced Surgeons: Surgeons with specialized training in hand and wrist surgery are best equipped to perform these procedures.
  5. Monitoring: Patients are closely monitored during and after surgery to detect and manage any complications promptly.
  6. Anesthesia Safety: Anesthesiologists administer anesthesia and closely monitor patients’ vital signs throughout the procedure.
  7. Surgical Techniques: Surgeons use precise techniques to minimize tissue damage and reduce the risk of complications.
  8. Postoperative Care: Patients receive detailed postoperative care instructions, which are essential for proper wound care and rehabilitation.
  9. Follow-Up: Regular follow-up appointments with the surgeon allow for the monitoring of healing and addressing any concerns.
  10. Patient Education: Patients are educated about what to expect before and after surgery, including possible complications and how to manage them.

It’s important for patients to openly communicate with their healthcare providers, ask questions, and follow their recommendations to enhance safety and minimize risks associated with hand and wrist surgery. Additionally, the choice of a skilled and experienced surgeon is a critical factor in achieving a successful outcome with minimal complications.

Recovery and Results

Recovery and the results of hand and wrist surgery can vary depending on the specific procedure, the individual patient, and the nature of the underlying condition.

Here’s a general overview of what to expect during the recovery period and the potential outcomes of hand and wrist surgery:

Recovery Process:

  1. Immediate Postoperative Period:
    • After surgery, you will spend some time in a recovery area to monitor your vital signs and ensure you are awake and stable.
    • Pain and discomfort are common in the initial days after surgery and are managed with prescribed medications.
  2. Dressing and Wound Care:
    • The surgical site may be covered with a dressing or bandage to protect the incision and control swelling.
    • You’ll receive instructions on how to care for the wound, including when and how to change the dressing.
  3. Immobilization:
    • Depending on the procedure, you may need to wear a splint, cast, or other immobilization device to support the hand or wrist during the initial healing phase.
  4. Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation:
    • In some cases, your surgeon may recommend physical therapy or hand therapy to improve hand and wrist function, strength, and range of motion.
    • You will learn exercises and techniques to aid in your recovery.
  5. Pain Management:
    • Continue to follow your surgeon’s instructions for pain management, which may include prescribed pain medications or over-the-counter pain relievers.
  6. Activity Restrictions:
    • You will be given specific guidelines about which activities to avoid and when you can gradually resume normal activities.
    • It’s crucial to follow these restrictions to prevent complications.
  7. Follow-Up Appointments:
    • Attend all scheduled follow-up appointments with your surgeon. These visits allow the surgeon to monitor your progress and make any necessary adjustments to your treatment plan.

Results and Outcomes:

The results of hand and wrist surgery can vary, but the overall goals are to reduce pain, improve function, and enhance the quality of life. The specific outcomes depend on the nature of the condition and the type of surgery.

Here are some potential results for common hand and wrist surgeries:

  1. Fracture Repair: Successful surgery typically results in proper bone alignment, reduced pain, and restored function. The extent of recovery may vary based on the complexity of the fracture.
  2. Tendon or Ligament Repair: Surgery can restore function and strength, allowing you to regain normal hand and wrist movement.
  3. Carpal Tunnel Release: This surgery often leads to relief from the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, such as numbness and pain.
  4. Joint Procedures: Joint fusion or replacement can significantly reduce pain and improve joint function in cases of arthritis or other joint-related conditions.
  5. Nerve Decompression: Surgery for nerve compression syndromes can relieve symptoms like numbness and weakness.
  6. Tumor Removal: Surgical removal of benign or malignant tumors is intended to eliminate the growth and prevent its spread.
  7. Reconstructive Surgery: After traumatic injuries, burns, or amputations, reconstructive surgery aims to restore hand and wrist function and appearance.

It’s important to have realistic expectations and understand that the full benefits of surgery may take time to be realized. The recovery period can vary from a few weeks to several months, depending on the procedure and the individual’s healing process. Overall, the success of hand and wrist surgery is often measured by the reduction of symptoms and the restoration of function, allowing patients to return to their daily activities with improved comfort and quality of life.

Recovery Period

The recovery period after hand and wrist surgery can vary widely depending on the type of surgery performed, the individual patient, and the specific goals of the procedure. Recovery times can range from a few weeks to several months.

Here is a general guideline for what to expect during the recovery period after hand and wrist surgery, broken down into different phases:

  1. Immediate Postoperative Period (0-2 weeks):
    • During the first few days after surgery, you may experience pain, swelling, and discomfort. This is entirely normal.
    • Your hand or wrist may be immobilized with a splint or cast.
    • Dressings and sutures may be in place, and you will receive instructions on when and how to change dressings or manage the wound.
    • It’s essential to keep the hand elevated to reduce swelling.
    • Pain medication and antibiotics may be prescribed.
    • You will likely have restrictions on using the operated hand or wrist and may require assistance with daily activities.
  2. 2-6 Weeks Post-Surgery:
    • Follow-up appointments with your surgeon will occur during this period.
    • The splint or cast may be removed, and you might transition to a brace.
    • You may start gentle range-of-motion exercises as directed by your surgeon or a physical therapist.
    • Some swelling and stiffness are common, but these will gradually improve.
  3. 6-12 Weeks Post-Surgery:
    • During this phase, you will continue with physical therapy and rehabilitation exercises to improve strength and function.
    • Depending on the surgery, you may gradually start using the hand and wrist for light activities.
    • Swelling and discomfort should continue to decrease.
  4. 3-6 Months Post-Surgery:
    • By this time, you should have regained significant hand and wrist function and strength.
    • You can gradually return to more normal activities and work, though heavy lifting or strenuous activities may still be restricted.
    • The surgical site should be well-healed, and scarring will continue to fade.
  5. Long-Term Follow-Up:
    • Regular follow-up appointments with your surgeon may continue beyond the six-month mark.
    • These appointments are essential for monitoring your progress, addressing any concerns, and ensuring the best possible long-term outcome.

It’s important to note that individual recovery experiences can vary, and the timeline provided is a general guideline. The type of surgery, the patient’s overall health, adherence to postoperative instructions, and the presence of any complications can all influence the length of the recovery period.

During the recovery process, it’s crucial to follow your surgeon’s recommendations carefully and attend all scheduled follow-up appointments. Rehabilitation exercises and physical therapy play a key role in regaining hand and wrist function. Maintaining open communication with your healthcare team and reporting any unexpected or concerning symptoms can help ensure a successful recovery.

Post-Op Instructions

Following hand and wrist surgery, it’s crucial to adhere to post-operative instructions provided by your surgeon to ensure a successful recovery and minimize the risk of complications.

While specific instructions may vary depending on the type of surgery, here are some common post-operative guidelines:

  1. Wound Care:
    • Keep the surgical site clean and dry.
    • Follow your surgeon’s recommendations for changing dressings and cleaning the wound.
    • gentle when washing the area to avoid disrupting stitches or incisions.
  2. Immobilization:
    • If a splint, cast, or brace has been applied, it’s essential to wear it as directed.
    • Do not remove or adjust the immobilization device without your surgeon’s approval.
  3. Elevation:
    • Keep the hand or wrist elevated as much as possible, especially during the first few days after surgery, to reduce swelling.
    • Prop your hand up on pillows when resting or sleeping.
  4. Medication:
    • Take prescribed pain medications as directed to manage discomfort. Do not exceed the recommended dosage.
    • If prescribed antibiotics, complete the full course as instructed to prevent infection.
  5. Activity Restrictions:
    • Follow your surgeon’s recommendations regarding activity restrictions. Common restrictions include:
    • Avoiding heavy lifting or strenuous activities.
    • Limiting the use of the operated hand or wrist.
    • Gradually increase activity levels as advised by your surgeon.
  6. Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation:
    • If your surgeon recommends physical therapy or hand therapy, attend these sessions regularly to improve hand and wrist function and strength.
    • Perform rehabilitation exercises as instructed by your therapist.
  7. Follow-Up Appointments:
    • Attend all scheduled follow-up appointments with your surgeon. These visits allow for wound assessment and monitoring of your recovery progress.
  8. Swelling Management:
    • Apply ice or cold packs to the surgical area (following your surgeon’s instructions) to reduce swelling. Be cautious not to apply ice directly to the skin.
  9. Compression Garments:
    • If instructed, wear compression garments to help reduce swelling and support the surgical site.
  10. Pain Management:
    • Report any severe or increasing pain to your surgeon. Pain is expected after surgery, but it should be manageable with prescribed medications.
  11. Diet and Hydration:
    • Maintain a balanced diet and stay hydrated to support the healing process.
  12. Smoking and Alcohol:
    • If you smoke, consider quitting or at least reducing smoking, as it can hinder the healing process.
    • Limit alcohol consumption, as it can interfere with recovery.
  13. Avoiding Infection:
    • Follow good hygiene practices and take precautions to avoid infection, such as keeping the wound covered.
  14. Scarring:
    • Be mindful of scarring. Scar management options may be discussed with your surgeon.
  15. Work and Daily Activities:
    • Consult with your surgeon about when it’s safe to return to work and your regular activities. This can vary based on the type of surgery and individual healing.

It’s crucial to communicate openly with your healthcare team, adhere to the provided instructions, and promptly report any concerns or complications during the recovery process. Each patient’s recovery is unique, so follow the specific guidance provided by your surgeon to achieve the best possible outcome and return to normal daily activities with improved hand and wrist function.

Terminology Patient Should Be Aware of

When preparing for hand and wrist surgery, it can be helpful for patients to be familiar with common terminology related to their condition and the surgical procedure.

Here are some key terms that patients may encounter during the process:

  1. Orthopedic Surgeon: A medical doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and surgical treatment of musculoskeletal conditions, including those of the hand and wrist.
  2. Hand and Wrist Surgeon: A specialized orthopedic or plastic surgeon with additional training in hand and upper extremity surgery.
  3. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: A condition characterized by the compression of the median nerve in the wrist, leading to symptoms such as numbness, tingling, and weakness in the hand.
  4. Tendon: Connective tissue that attaches muscle to bone. Tendons allow for joint movement and are often repaired or reconstructed during surgery.
  5. Ligament: Connective tissue that connects bone to bone, stabilizing joints. Ligament injuries may require surgical repair.
  6. Fracture: A break in a bone. Hand and wrist fractures are common and may require surgical realignment and fixation.
  7. Arthritis: Inflammation of the joints that can lead to pain, stiffness, and reduced joint function. Surgical options for arthritis include joint fusion and replacement.
  8. Cubital Tunnel Syndrome: Compression of the ulnar nerve at the elbow, causing symptoms similar to carpal tunnel syndrome. Surgical decompression may be needed.
  9. Radial Tunnel Syndrome: Compression of the radial nerve in the forearm, leading to pain and weakness. Surgical intervention may be required.
  10. Ganglion Cyst: A fluid-filled sac that often appears as a lump on the hand or wrist. Surgery may be performed to remove it if it causes pain or impairs joint motion.
  11. Dupuytren’s Contracture: A condition that causes the fingers to bend toward the palm due to the thickening of tissue in the hand. Surgery can be done to correct this deformity.
  12. Nerve Decompression: A surgical procedure that relieves pressure on a compressed nerve, typically done to alleviate symptoms like numbness and weakness.
  13. Anesthesia: Medication administered to block pain and induce a loss of sensation during surgery. Types of anesthesia include local, regional, and general anesthesia.
  14. Suture: Stitches or surgical thread used to close incisions after surgery.
  15. Splint: A rigid or semi-rigid device used to support and immobilize the hand or wrist after surgery.
  16. Cast: A rigid support made of plaster or fiberglass used to immobilize and protect the hand and wrist during the healing process.
  17. Physical Therapy: A rehabilitation program that includes exercises and techniques to improve strength, range of motion, and function in the hand and wrist.
  18. Recovery Period: The time following surgery during which the patient heals and regains function.
  19. Informed Consent: A patient’s agreement to undergo a surgical procedure after being informed of the potential risks and benefits.
  20. Follow-Up Appointments: Scheduled visits with the surgeon to monitor the healing process and address any concerns or complications.
  21. Scarring: The formation of scar tissue at the surgical site. Scarring is a normal part of the healing process.
  22. Immobilization: Restricting movement of the hand or wrist to aid in healing, often achieved with a splint, cast, or brace.

Being familiar with these terms can help patients better understand their condition, the surgical procedure, and the discussions with their healthcare team. Patients are encouraged to ask questions and seek clarification on any terminology they find unfamiliar to ensure they have a clear understanding of their diagnosis and treatment.

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