Our hands play an indispensable function in our day-to-day lives; therefore, it is very important that we always keep them in tip-top shape. People whose hands are injured may feel derailed from their daily goals. It is for this very reason that they should not simply settle when it comes to acquiring palliative or corrective treatment for their ailing or injured hands.
Common Hand Conditions
Hand problems may be characterized by a seemingly harmless numbness, a complicated bone tumor, or a congenital deformity. With the amount of skill and expertise they have acquired through years of training and experience, orthopedic surgeons have the ability to treat both simple and complex conditions. Some of these include carpal and cubital tunnel syndrome, DeQuervain’s disease, ganglions and mucous cysts, ligament injuries, tendonitis such as trigger finger, cartilage injuries, arthritic conditions which leads to pain at the finger joints, finger and wrist lacerations, bone tumors, and congenital deformities.
Most of the conditions previously mentioned can be treated with non-surgical methods such as physical therapy, casting, injections or splinting, medication and rehabilitative exercises. However, for more complex conditions, orthopedic surgeons would more often than not recommend surgical intervention. Orthopedic surgery is required for patients who need to join orthopedic, neurological, plastic, and vascular components together to relieve pain, correct the deformity and restore function and mobility.
Specific Hand Conditions and Treatments
Arthritis of the Hand
Arthritis refers to an inflamed joint. A normal joint consists of two smooth bone surfaces covered with cartilage that fit together and move smoothly against each other. Arthritis occurs when these smooth surfaces don’t fit together which may be caused by irregularity and wearing out. While arthritis can affect any joint in the body, it occurs more in the hands and fingers. This joint inflammation can be both disabling and very painful. Post-traumatic arthritis, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis are some of the common forms of hand arthritis. Arthritis can also be caused by gout, psoriasis and infection.
Osteoarthritis of the Hand
This condition is a degenerative joint disease where the cartilage that cushions the bone surfaces at the joints begins to wear out. A regular ‘wear and tear’ on joints can cause osteoarthritis. It may also occur after sustaining injury to a joint.
Hand arthritis and osteoarthritis both require treatment that relieves pain and restores function. Initially, orthopedic surgeons will recommend non-surgical treatment options because sometimes they can be effective enough in controlling the symptoms and treat the injury. Non-surgical procedures include taking analgesics or anti-inflammatory medication, wearing of splints for fingers or wrists at night time and during specific activities, heat modalities in the form of paraffin baths or warm wax, cold modalities, hand therapy and exercises, or a cortisone injection. Orthopedic surgeons normally recommend surgery only if non-surgical and conservative treatments fail to deliver the expected results.
Patients suffering from intolerable and disabling pain are typically recommended to undergo orthopedic surgery. The goal of the surgery is to restore as much function as possible, eliminate the pain, or keep the pain at a tolerable level.
Joint fusion is a type of surgery in which the affected surface is removed. The bones are fused together on each side of the joint to eliminate movement from the problem joint. This type of orthopedic surgery is used to correct the deformities and relieve the pain that hinders the person’s inability to function normally.
Joint reconstruction is another surgical approach which involves the removal of the degenerated or worn-out joint surface. Such removal will eliminate the irregular and rough bone friction or contact which is painful thereby restricting motion or movement. The removed worn-out portion of the joint surface may be substituted with tendon or an artificial implant for joint replacement. Depending on the type of joints affected or injured, orthopedic surgeons will determine the type of surgery that is the most appropriate for the patient.
Joint replacement surgery and other similar treatment options will require the patients to stay in the hospital for an extended period for rehabilitative therapy.