What’s the best treatment? How long should you wait before having your procedure? What will your care look like? When it comes to your health, you need to take the time to get the facts and choose the right professional for your treatment.
There’s nothing normal about hand pain, swelling, locking, or a loss of sensitivity or dexterity. While barely noticeable at first, over time these symptoms can become uncomfortable and even debilitating. They can be a sign of one or several problems and should be assessed by a medical specialist without delay. Hand conditions can affect your quality of life and lead to permanent damage if they aren’t treated quickly or if treatment is delayed.
Hands are as complex as they are delicate. They have 27 bones, 27 joints, 34 muscles, and many tendons, nerves, and ligaments. Treating hands requires considerable expertise and a specific set of surgical skills.
In Canada, hand and wrist surgery isn’t considered its own specialization. Hand and wrist surgery is normally performed by plastic or orthopaedic surgeons who have completed a sub-specialization as part of their medical training. For these surgeons, hands are part of a much broader practice that might include cosmetic surgery or surgery on other parts of the body.
If you need surgery, your hands should be in the best hands. This means going to an experienced surgeon whose practice is dedicated exclusively to hand surgery. Here are a few things you should consider before picking your surgeon:
Make sure you pick a surgeon who puts you at ease and inspires confidence. Your health is on the line, so it’s critical that you feel like your surgeon is listening to you and giving you the right advice.
Computers allow us to access an incredible amount of health-related information. Take the time to do research and educate yourself before your appointment. This will make you better prepared to talk with your specialist and participate more actively in your care. With that said, make sure you are reading high-quality, reliable, and credible sources of medical information.
Keep in mind, however, that the internet is a great tool for research—but not for diagnosis. Only a qualified professional who has seen you can confirm your diagnosis and establish a detailed treatment plan.
You may find it useful to ask your family doctor or your friends for a recommendation. Check rating sites like RateMDs and Google Reviews. Patient testimonials could point you toward a specialist and help you make an informed decision.
Your consultation is important. During that time, your surgeon will evaluate your condition and explain your treatment options. Your first meeting is also your opportunity to meet them and have a conversation.
How much will your procedure cost? How long will you have to stop working? Are post-operative follow-up appointments included? Will you have to do physio? Make sure you ask.
If you choose a surgeon in private practice, your health insurance will not cover the cost. In these cases, you need to see what your reimbursement options are with your private insurance or your employer. Keep in mind that less invasive methods, like endoscopic surgery, significantly reduce recovery time and therefore result in less lost income from having to stay home from work.
How do I know it’s time to see a surgeon?
If you’re in pain or have noticed unusual symptoms, if you’ve been diagnosed and your symptoms haven’t gone away even though you’ve taken steps to treat them, or if your condition is affecting your quality of life and productivity, it’s time make plans to meet with a hand expert.
Do I have to go to a specialized hand surgeon?
Surgeons need to have in-depth anatomical knowledge and special surgical skills to treat hands. Going to an experienced surgeon who operates exclusively on hands and wrists is best.
How can I find a surgeon?
Ask your doctor to recommend a hand and wrist specialist. Do your research, find out about the surgeon’s experience and what surgical methods they use, and read rating websites and testimonials.
Everything you need to know to identify and treat trigger finger. Written in clear and simple language by hand surgeon Dr. Jean-Paul Brutus, this e-guide identifies the causes, symptoms, and different ways to treat trigger finger and offers recommendations on how to ease your symptoms at home.