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Hand Pain - How Surgery Can Help?

Written and reviewed by
Dr. Karn Kumar Maheshwari 86% (10 ratings)
MBBS, MS - Orthopaedics, Fellowship in Hand Micro Surgery
Orthopedic Doctor, Ahmedabad  •  7 years experience
Hand Pain - How Surgery Can Help?

Hand pain is very common and usually results from an injury or overuse of the wrist or the hand. However, recurring or persistent pain in the arms or hand may be an indication of an underlying condition. The wrist and hand contain many joints, bones, and connective tissues - tendons, ligaments, blood vessels, and nerves. An injury to your hand can mangle these structures and even disrupt your hand’s normal range of motion.

What are the possible causes of hand injuries? The common causes of hand injuries may include -

  • Blows and knocks
  • Jamming a finger
  • Bending the wrist or fingers backward
  • Repetitive strain - lifting heavy weights, playing a sport, typing for a long period
  • Dislocations and fractures due to a severe blow or fall
  • Certain medical conditions such as - Ganglion cyst, trigger finger, Carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis, and others

Symptoms You Should Look Out for Hand injuries are often a debilitating condition, and exhibit the following symptoms -

  • A sharp, stabbing pain
  • A tingling sensation in the forearms
  • Numbness and swelling
  • Difficulty holding heavy objects
  • Difficulty making a fist
  • Stiffness or loss of movement

When to See a Doctor In most cases, hand pain due to a minor injury heals on its own in a day or two. However, you should not overlook the condition if the symptoms are long-lasting. Ideally, you should visit an orthopedic if -

  • The pain does not reduce in 2-3days
  • If the symptoms deteriorate
  • If the wrist or hand pain does not respond to medications

Can surgery help treat hand injuries? If the initial treatment methods - RICE therapy and pain medications - fail to yield desired results, then your doctor may recommend surgery. There are several types of hand surgery. The doctor will analyze the underlying cause of the pain and perform an appropriate procedure.

  • Skin Grafts - The procedure involves replacing skin on the injured area of your hand with healthier skin from any other portion of the body, known as the donor site. This type of surgery is done for fingertip injuries or amputations.
  • Closed Reduction and Fixation - This procedure is recommended if you have suffered a bone fracture on the fingertips. The surgery restores the broken bones to its former position and holds it in place while it heals. Immobilization can be done using rods, splints, casts and wires.
  • Tendon Repairs - The most difficult type of hand surgery is the tendon repair surgery owing to the structure of the tendons. The surgeon will carefully make a couple of incisions in your skin and sew the ends of the damaged, torn tendons together. In order to ensure that the nerves and blood vessels are not damaged, he/she will examine the surrounding tissues, and then, close the incision. To allow the wounds to heal, the surgeon will cover the treated area with dressings or sterile bandages.
  • Fasciotomy - The surgeon makes incisions or cuts in your arm or hand and removes damaged tissues to relieve pressure and swelling. This prevents your hand from further damage and helps restore the functioning of the affected area.
  • Arthroplasty - This surgical procedure is usually prescribed for patients suffering from severe hand arthritis. It involves replacing a diseased joint with an artificial one, usually made up of plastic, metal, or silicon.

What to Expect Following the Surgery? Recovery after the procedure depends largely on the type of hand surgery you have had. Sometimes, you may have to undergo multiple surgeries to ensure that the pain is cured completely. You will likely feel pain ranging from severe to mild after the surgery, for which your doctor will prescribe pain medications. This usually eases the pain in a week. To help you get back to daily activities, your doctor may also recommend physiotherapy.

Surgery is the most effective treatment option to ease pain associated with severe hand injuries. If you have been suffering from recurring/persistent pain, and are looking for a permanent cure, then you should consider visiting a specialist.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!
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