Wednesday, September 10, 2014
DO I NEED A HAND SURGEON?
By: Kathleen E. McKeon, M.D.
Injuries to one’s wrists, hands and fingers are an inevitable part of life. We’ve all experienced jammed fingers, lacerations, and occasional numbness in our hands. Most of the time, these problems can be treated at home with rest, ice, anti-inflammatories, etc.
However, because we’re used to treating our hand problems at home, some patients with potentially serious conditions may delay seeking treatment.
So when should you see a hand surgeon?
1) Numbness – If you have numbness, or a “pins and needles” feeling, in your hands or fingers that occurs more frequently than twice a week. If this occurs at night and is waking you from sleep, seeing a physician is definitely recommended.
2) Misalignment – If a finger looks crooked or rotated after an injury. This misalignment will likely not correct itself on its own and will need to be fixed surgically.
3) Deep Laceration – If you have a laceration in the wrist, hand, or finger that goes all the way through the skin. There are nerves and tendons very close to the surface that may be injured, even if the laceration seems small.
4) Decreased Range Of Motion – If you have stiffness in a joint that is present for more than one week. Stiffness can become permanent if it is not addressed.
5) Mass – If you notice a bump or mass in your wrist, hand, or finger. Malignant tumors in the arm are very rare, but any mass should be evaluated by a physician.
6) Persistent Pain – If you have pain in any part of your wrist, hand, or fingers that has been present for more than 6 weeks. The most common causes of persistent pain in the hand are tendonitis and arthritis.
These symptoms can all lead to permanent problems if the patient does not seek care from a qualified professional in a timely manner. Some of these conditions, such as numbness and misalignment, can often be completely cured with appropriate treatment if they are taken care of quickly. Other conditions, such as arthritis, cannot be cured, but treatment may dramatically improve pain and quality of life.
An excellent, more comprehensive, online resource is http://handcare.assh.org/. This webpage is published by the American Society for Surgery of the Hand and contains well organized information about hand anatomy, hand safety, and assorted hand conditions.
Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopaedic Center’s Kathleen E. McKeon M.D., specializes in hand, wrist and upper extremity orthopaedic surgery, including fracture care, nerve surgery, joint reconstruction, microsurgery and sports injuries.
For questions or to schedule an appointment, contact Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopaedic Center at 205.939.3699 or visit AndrewsSportsMedicine.com