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What are the Different Kinds of Orthopedic Hand Surgery?

By Jami Yontz
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Orthopedic hand surgery is performed to alleviate or correct diseases of the hand that can cause inflammation, pain and deformities or to repair an injury. Orthopedic hand surgery also applies to some procedures conducted on the wrists, forearms, shoulders and elbows. The main types of surgery include skin grafts, nerve repair, closed reduction and fixation, tendon repair, fasciotomy and joint replacement. Replantation, surgical drainage and debridement are other types of orthopedic hand surgery. The most common hand surgeries are performed to treat carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis, osteoporosis and tendon or nerve damage.

Skin grafts use healthy skin from another part of a person’s body to cover parts of the hands or fingers. Skin grafts are commonly used in patients who have suffered an amputation. Skin flaps are completed if the surface has had trauma to the tissue and no longer has an adequate supply of blood. Replantation is also a hand trauma surgery option for some patients. This procedure uses microsurgery to reattach the amputated finger or hand.

Nerve damage can cause a loss of feeling or the loss of ability to move the hand. Surgery to correct the damage or reattach the nerve is performed as soon as possible after the injury to prevent permanent damage. Carpel tunnel syndrome is a type of nerve repair surgery to release the pressure from a pinched nerve in the wrist.

Some hand surgeries are performed to repair damaged tendons related to a variety of conditions. Trigger finger, for example, is a condition that causes a finger to become caught in a bent position; it is corrected through a repair of the tendons in the affected finger. Orthopedic hand surgery is also performed to correct tennis elbow, a condition wherein the tendons have pulled away from the elbow or degraded to a point where the person has trouble lifting their arm or gripping an object. Tendon grafts can be completed in these types of procedures to replace or rebuild the destroyed fibers.

Arthritis can causes severe inflammation in the joints of the hand, causing severe pain, loss of movement and even deformities. Orthopedic hand surgeons can treat this disease by removing tissue or through a joint replacement surgery, also know as arthroplasty. There are many non-surgical treatments for rheumatoid arthritis, such as wearing a splint or taking anti-inflammatory medications, that physicians often will continue to prescribe to patients after surgery, as these surgical procedures cannot cure the disease.

Closed reduction and fixation procedures are used to repair bone fractures in the hand. Usually some type of rod is put into place to allow the bone to heal in the correct position. Fasciotomy is a type of procedure to correct the tightening of the hand tissue in someone with Dupuytren’s Contracture. This disease causes the tissue underneath the skin to form lumps and to bend the fingers toward the inside of the palm.

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Discussion Comments

By Spotiche5 — On Feb 10, 2015

@heavanet- I had trigger finger surgery, also sometimes referred to as trigger finger release, and I think the recovery time is more challenging than the surgery is painful. While there is some discomfort, the medications that my orthopedist recommended helped. Several days following surgery, most of the pain was gone.

Overall, the total recovery period takes about 6 to 8 weeks. Your hand will be stiff and sore for a while, so you will need to do the exercises that your doctor prescribes to regain flexibility. You might also need to work with a physical therapist for a while to get back to normal.

After you have healed from this type of orthopedic hand surgery, you will need to continue doing exercises to keep your hand mobile and flexible, You will also need to be careful not to overdo certain activities, including those that contributed to your issues.

By Heavanet — On Feb 10, 2015

I'm interested in hearing from anyone who has had trigger finger surgery. I'm wondering if it is a painful procedure, and how long the recovery period lasts.

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