When should you consult a hand surgeon?
Guest post by Dr. Eric Pang, MD, Orthopedic Surgery; Hand, elbow & wrist
Orthopedic Physician Associates
Dr. Pang is a fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon specializing in hand, wrist, and elbow disorders. He has advanced training in upper extremity fracture care, arthroscopy, joint replacement, and microsurgery. His special interests include upper extremity nerve compression syndromes, instability/arthritis (finger, wrist, or elbow joint replacement), sports/athletic injuries of the hand, wrist, and elbow, fracture care, and minimally invasive arthroscopy. As a physician, Dr. Pang is committed to patient-oriented care and the use of shared decision making in his practice.
Should you consult a hand surgeon for your injury?
Hand and upper extremity injuries come in all shapes and sizes – lacerations, tendon and nerve injuries, sprains, strains, and breaks. At the moment, it can be hard to know who to see and when to see them. As each injury is different, there is no definitive guideline on what to do in every scenario, but my hope in writing this is for you to have a general idea of your options.
What is considered a serious injury?
Typically, if you had an acute injury like a fall from an elevated height, sharp injury, motor vehicle accident, etc. then your injury may be more serious. Your injury is a direct result of the energy that is transferred to your body; therefore, the more serious the accident, the more serious the potential injury.
Some symptoms that might indicate the need for higher care are open wounds, swelling of the extremity, pain with motion, numbness and/or tingling. Urgent care centers, emergency departments, and your primary care physicians are easy points of access for timely care to a serious injury. Evaluation should include a detailed history, physical exam, and x-rays in most cases. From there, doctors can determine if your injury and care would be better managed by a hand specialist.
Should I consult a hand surgeon for chronic pain?
Chronic, nagging issues are more ambiguous. These issues usually have no clear event that started the pain, with generally milder symptoms and a steady progression of pain over time. They may not seem like problems that require surgery, but seeing a specialist in these cases can help direct you to a physical or occupational therapist, provide proper bracing and immobilization, and in some cases injections that can relieve symptoms or even be curative. If you have had some of these interventions already, and your symptoms have not improved, or become worse, then seeing a specialist would be worth your time to evaluate the benefits of surgery.
If you have concerns or are not sure if you need to see a hand specialist, you can get more information about common hand issues at my website – ericpangmd.com. If at that time, you are still not sure, then setting up a consultation and establishing care with a hand specialist can help get you on the right path to getting back to your everyday life.