What is a Hand Surgeon?


A qualified hand specialist is trained to diagnose and treat all problems related to these different structures in the hand, wrist, and forearm.


The hand is a unique area of the human body that is made up of bone, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles, nerves, skin, and blood vessels. These elements must all be in good working order for the hand to function well.

The relationship between all these structures is delicate and refined. An injury or disease can affect any or all of these structures and impair the use of the hand.

Hand specialists have received additional specialized training in the treatment of hand problems beyond their board certified specialty training in orthopaedic surgery, plastic surgery, or general surgery. To become a member of the American Society for Surgery of the Hand, a full year of such additional training is required, as is the passage of a rigorous certifying examination.

Many hand specialists also have expertise with problems of the elbow, arm, and shoulder. Some treat only children, some treat only adults, and some treat both. Common problems treated include:

  • carpal tunnel syndrome
  • tennis elbow
  • wrist pain
  • sports injuries of the hand and wrist
  • fractures of the hand, wrist, and forearm
  • trigger finger

Other problems treated can include arthritis, nerve and tendon injuries, and congenital limb differences (birth defects).

Not all problems treated by a hand specialist need surgery. They often recommend non-surgical treatments, such as medication, splints, therapy, or injections.

If you have pain in your fingers, hand, wrist or arm, or if you have other upper-extremity related concerns, you may want to consult a hand specialist. To locate an ASSH member near you, use the ASSH Find a Hand Surgeon feature.

© 2009 American Society for Surgery of the Hand
Copyright 2015 by American Society for Surgery of the Hand