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Hand Surgeries on the Rise

Posted in Hand

The number of hand surgeries performed actually increases during the summertime. Although this fact may sound strange, it makes perfect sense. Many people take advantage of the warmer months to complete home repair projects, get some work done in the yard or head outdoors for hiking, swimming and other activities. All of these heighten the risk of serious hand injury.

Outside of accident-related surgeries, however, planned hand surgeries are more common thanks to improved sophistication of hand surgery techniques. These techniques can address injuries beyond those sustained during summertime work or play. As these procedures grow more and more advanced, they provide more and more mobility for patients.

Surgery is of course required for hand injuries resulting in impaired movement or nerve damage that cannot be reversed through noninvasive means. Burns, damages to the tendons and ligaments, crushed bones and other traumas usually fall under this heading. There are other conditions, however, that may require surgical intervention. Many people do not realize that these options exist to address chronic hand issues as well.

Hand Surgery for Disease Reversal

Some of the diagnoses hand surgeries can reverse include the following:

  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: When a nerve in the wrist is compressed, it sometimes leads to numbness, tingling and pain in the hands. Surgery corrects the most severe cases in order to prevent further nerve damage, mobility loss and weakness.
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis: Rheumatoid arthritis can destroy ligaments and tendons in addition to joints, making it one of the most debilitating and damaging conditions impacting hands. Surgery can help when all other options have been exhausted.
  • Ganglion Cysts: Although not cancerous, ganglion tumors can cause great pain in the hand as a result of attritional tears in joints. Removal is often the most prudent solution.
  • Dupuytren’s Disease: This condition stems from subcutaneous cords thickening and preventing fingers from moving and extending without extreme pain. Massage and physical therapy form the first line of defense against Dupuytren’s, but surgical intervention may be required should other methods yield no results.
  • Tenosynovitis: Also known as “trigger finger,” tenosynovitis happens when synovial fluid (the lubricant that keeps joints operating smoothly) becomes inflamed. Increased friction leads to extremely painful, sometimes involuntary, finger movements.

Because hand surgeries do require a recovery period which temporarily limits or negates use of the hand or fingers, it’s important to consult with an expert to gauge whether or not a condition is severe enough to warrant an invasive procedure.

When to Pursue Surgery

Protective gear such as gloves, braces and ergonomic equipment all help reduce the risk of hand injuries and chronic conditions. Emergencies clearly require surgery, but most healthcare professionals will not recommend this route for arthritis, carpal tunnel and other issues unless nonsurgical solutions such as medication, steroids and physical therapy fail. Consultation is absolutely necessary before committing to surgery. Factors such as dominant hand, risk, age, hobbies, medical history and career all factor into the decision as well. Critical and potentially critical cases are the most likely to go under the knife.

Even the most minimally-invasive surgeries will require some degree of rest afterward. Before pursuing this plan, it’s important to understand the impact it may have on driving ability, work and other lifestyle factors. Honoring follow-up appointments and prescriptions is a must for a complete recovery.

Where to Pursue Surgery

Dr. Chris Livingston is a double board-certified hand surgery specialist with over a decade of experience. All treatment options for hand surgery are conducted in the most minimally-invasive manner possible, and we work closely with general practitioners, occupational therapists and physical therapists to piece together the best plan of action. Learn more about how we help patients who require surgical intervention and contact us for a consultation.