Hands are made of many delicate bones, joints, muscles, nerves, ligaments, tendons, blood vessels, and skin, all working together in a delicate balance. If any of these elements are injured or diseased, use of the hand can be impaired. Whether the impairment is to sensation or movement, hand issues can limit your activities and affect your quality of life. That’s why it makes sense to see a hand specialist if you have pain or mobility issues in your fingers, hand, wrist or lower arm.
What is a Hand Specialist?
Hand specialists are surgeons who specialize in conditions that affect the hand, wrist, forearms, or elbow. A hand specialist’s background may be as an orthopedic, plastic, or general surgeon. He or she then receives additional specialized training focusing on the wrists and hands. It’s important to understand that surgery is not always the answer. Depending on your injury, impairment, or discomfort, a hand specialist may recommend a medication, splints, rest, physical therapy, or injections. However, surgery is often the option for reducing pain and improving the strength, function and flexibility of your wrist, hand, or fingers.
Common Conditions Treated by a Hand Surgeon
Hand, wrist, or elbow issues requiring surgical treatment generally fall under three categories: Injuries, congenital abnormalities, or medical conditions caused by disease or overuse. Our surgeons routinely treat the following conditions:
- Fractures of the hand, wrist, or elbow and other athletic or traumatic injuries
- Joint replacement of the wrist or knuckles
- Arthritis of the thumb
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Hand or nail deformities
- Trigger finger
- Cysts in the hand
- Hand, wrist, or elbow pain
- Infections of the hand or nails
- Tendinitis of the wrist (often called mommy’s wrist)
- Tendon injuries
- Dupuytren’s contracture
- Complications from rheumatoid or osteoarthritis
- Repetitive stress injuries
- Cubital tunnel syndrome
- Lateral and medial epicondylitis (tennis/golfer’s elbow)
Commonly performed procedures include elbow arthroscopy, thumb arthroplasty, tendon transfers, and surgeries for cubital tunnel and carpal tunnel.
About Hand, Wrist, and Elbow Surgery at Marin General Hospital
Our hand surgeon is Dr. Thomas Kim. Dr. Kim cares for a broad range of patients, ranging from laborers with repetitive motion injuries, to arthritic seniors, to new mothers with “mommy’s wrist”, to youngsters with sports injuries. Fellowship trained in hand surgery, Dr. Kim operates mostly minimally invasively, through small incisions, using local anesthetic where possible. He performs most of his procedures on an outpatient basis that does not require an overnight stay in the hospital. Learn more about when you should consider being seen for carpal tunnel syndrome or arthritis, by watching the below videos:
Managing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Joint Replacement Surgery for Hand Arthritis