The human hand is unique in the animal kingdom. It is nimble, flexible and dexterous and that is why it can help us hold, grasp, touch or feel. The hands are an intricate system of small bones, tendons, muscles, nerves and veins. Two arteries- the radial and ulnar provide the hand with blood and three nerves- the medial, ulnar and carpal tunnel. The tendons attach the muscles to the bones and assure smooth and fluid motion of different parts of the hands and the wrist. But, if even one of the cogs of this machine is disrupted, the whole hand might become immobile.
What causes Hand Pain?
There could be several reasons that prompt hand pain. Chief among them are-
• Trauma- your hand could be injured in an accident or crushed by a machine or vehicle. You might also suffer the accidental amputation of a finger.
• Birth defects: some people are born with hands that are malformed. There could be something wrong with the fingers, joints or nerves that could cause indescribable pain.
• Arthritis: it is the most common reason that merits a hand surgery. Both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis can cause crippling pain that may be alleviated through surgery.
• Infection: Infection often sets in at the site of an injury and does not allow it to heal because dirt, grime, and other foreign particles accumulate there.
• Fracture: sometimes even a simple fracture might require surgery to heal properly.
When does surgery become necessary?
Your doctor will try all other forms of treatment before opting for surgery. It’s only when medicines, chiropractic care, physiotherapy and acupuncture don’t work that you may have to undergo surgery. There could be other reasons too, for example, the work that you do is very much hand-oriented and you need them to be in peak working order to earn a living or because the pain and the other symptoms are severe.
What are the different kinds of Hand Surgery?
Depending on the kind of injury or ailment, your doctor may recommend-
• Tendon Repair: Tendon repair surgeries are of three types of - primary (conducted within 24 hours of an injury), delayed primary (a few days after the injury) and secondary (at least 5 weeks after the accident). It is a complex surgery because tendons are not easy to repair because of their structure but if performed successfully they can restore your hand to its original form.
• Joint Replacement: this surgery, also called arthroplasty, is the last resort in the treatment of arthritis. When the pain has become unmanageable and the hand has lost most of its mobility, this surgery is performed to remove the disease-riddled joint of the hand and replace it with a metal joint.
• Debridement: this surgery is necessary when pain is triggered by an infected wound. During debridement, the surgeon cleanses the site. This speeds up the development of healthy new tissues.
• Closed Reduction and Fixation: This kind of surgery can fix a fractured bone. The surgeon realigns the bone and immobilizes the region with wires and rods to expedite healing. They will be removed once your hand has healed.
• Nerve Repair Surgery: if an injury causes your hand to lose sensation or feeling, then your doctor will prescribe a nerve repair surgery.
After the surgery, you will need to strictly adhere to your doctor’s instructions on diet and physiotherapy to ensure that your hand heals the way it is supposed to.