“The thousands of manual and digital exercises of the hand needed to carry out the ordinary and frequently subconscious acts of daily life are only fully appreciated when they are encumbered or lost by disability…..
To lose one kidney or one lower extremity is unpleasant to say the least, but it is no handicap to living a full and productive life. To lose the function of one hand can be disastrous.” ~ William D. Holden, M.D.
Hand surgery is the field of medicine that deals with problems of the hand, wrist and forearm. A hand surgeon will try first to care for these problems without surgery, however, they are specially trained in this concentration to operate when necessary.
Our hands are complex units that serve many purposes, from the practical to recreational activities of life. Eating, dressing, writing, earning a living and creating art are all tasks performed by out hands that require:
- Motor function, including muscle contraction, tendon gliding, joint stability and joint motion
- Vascular supply
- Skin integrity
Sensation is controlled by three main nerves: the radial nerve, the ulnar nerve and the median nerve. All of which are subject to compression, laceration and tumors.
Motor function is dependent upon joint stability and motion. With over 30 bones, multiple joints, numerous ligaments and articular cartilage, our hands are subject to fractures and dislocations, sprains, arthritis and stiffness.
The vascular supply of our hands involves the ulnar and radial arteries, arches and digital branches that are subject to lacerations, thrombosis, tumors, emboli and aneurysm.
Skin integrity depends upon its elasticity, terminal sensory organs, sweat and hair. The skin on our upper extremities is subject to lacerations, skins loss, burns, tumors, scarring and contractures.
Care must be given to all types of tissue that make the function of the hand possible. These systems are subject to a wide array of pathologic conditions. It is rare for only one system to be injured.
It is devastating when all systems are injured such in the case of replantation.
In addition to the conditions and injuries commonly seen by a hand surgeon, a fellowship trained hand surgeon has experience in the not so commonplace, including:
- Trauma surgery of the hand and wrist, including replantation of severed body parts
- Congenital differences
- Microvascular surgery
- Arthritis surgery (both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis)
- Reconstructive wrist surgeryReconstructive wrist surgery
- Peripheral nerve surgery