Hand Surgery

About Hand Surgery

Our hands serve many purposes.  Hands help us eat, dress, write, earn a living, create art and do many other activities. To accomplish these tasks and activities, our hands require sensation and movement, such as joint motion, tendon gliding and muscle contraction.

When a problem takes place in the hand, care must be given to all the different types of tissues that make function of the hand possible.  Hand surgeons are specifically trained to give that care:

  • Hand surgery is the field of medicine that deals with problems of the hand, wrist and forearm.
  • Hand surgeons care for these problems without surgery, and they are specially trained to operate when necessary.
  • Many hand surgeons are also experts in diagnosing and caring for shoulder and elbow problems.
  • Hand surgeons are orthopedic, plastic or general surgeons who have additional training in surgery of the hand.

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.

A hand surgeon has 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 surgeon 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 surgeon. To locate a hand surgeon near you, use the Find a Hand Surgeon tool from the American Society for Surgery of the Hand.