Orthopedic Hand Specialist in Orange County
From reaching and grasping to typing and even scratching an itch, your hands perform many important functions throughout a typical day. In order to carry out such tasks, your bones, joints, and tissues need to work in unison. While it's easy to take the many capabilities of your hands, fingers, knuckles, and wrists for granted, there are times when these parts demand attention. If any discomfort you are experiencing is more than a temporary inconvenience, you may be referred to an orthopedic hand specialist in Orange County. Here are some of the reasons why your hands may need to be evaluated by a specialist.
You Have a Hand Injury
Sports-related impacts or falls, work-related tasks, accidental falls, and fistfights are among the most common reasons for injuries to hands, wrists, and fingers. Any activity requiring repetitive hand motions or manipulations may also result in an injury to muscles, tendons, ligaments, or joints. Children and teens are more likely to visit an orthopedic hand specialist in Orange County for the treatment of injuries sustained while playing sports or playing outdoors in general. Hand injuries in children and adolescents often need to be evaluated due to possible issues with the growing tissue located near the ends of long bones (epiphyseal or "growth" plate).
Older adults are at a greater risk of sustaining hand or wrist fractures, which may be due to conditions such as osteopenia, an age-related reduction in muscle mass and bone strength. Sudden (acute) hand, finger, and wrist injuries may occur from a fall or any motion where the tissues are stretched beyond a normal range of motion. Injuries that may require the attention of a hand specialist include:
- Severe fractures or fractures that aren't healing properly
- Compartment syndrome develops due to a fracture or similar injury
- Pain from sprains and strains not getting better
A Progressive Condition is Affecting Your Hands
Arthritis is the most common progressive condition that may affect the joints, bones, and soft tissues in hands. Numbness and tingling sensations often associated with prolonged activities such as typing or holding a steering wheel may be a sign of carpal tunnel syndrome, a progressive condition affecting the median nerve where it enters the hand through a "tunnel" in the wrist. The tendons that go through the carpal tunnel help fingers and thumbs bend. Other progressive conditions that may result in persistent hand pain include:
- Tendonitis of the wrist
- Thickening of fascia tissue in ring finger or pinky (Dupuytren's disease)
- Interruption of blood supply to small bones in the wrist (Kienbock's disease)
- Ulnar tunnel syndrome affecting of the main hand nerves (ulnar nerve)
You Have a Painful or Distracting Hand Deformity
An injury to tendons or muscles in the hand may result in deformity, as is the case with a Boutonniere deformity where an injured finger joint won't straighten. Affecting tendons in fingers or thumbs, trigger finger results in a finger catching or locking while making an attempt to straighten it. Congenital anomalies are deformities of the hand are present at birth and may include a hand that's turned inward ("club hand") and the underdevelopment of one of both hands (symbrachydactyly).
You Are Considering Hand Surgery as an Option
Surgery isn't automatically necessary if you are referred to an orthopedic hand specialist in Orange County. Barring a serious medical emergency, attempts are often made to explore other non-surgical treatment options before surgery is recommended. Steroid injections, for instance, are sometimes used to ease pain from conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis, and tendonitis. A wrist arthroscopy may be performed for exploratory reasons to make a more accurate diagnosis to determine if surgery is necessary. The speed and degree of electrical impulses through muscles in your hands may also be measured during electrodiagnostic testing for diagnostic purposes. If surgery is necessary or recommended, procedures performed by an orthopedic hand specialist in Orange County may include:
- Closed reduction and fixation to realign fractures wrist, hand, or finger bones
- Tendon and/or nerve repair
- Tendon transfer to restore hand function after spinal cord surgery
- Wrist joint replacement
- Surgical drainage and/or debridement due to a hand/wrist infection
Whether you are experiencing pain from a progressive condition like arthritis or seeking treatment for an injury, the goal of an orthopedic hand specialist in Orange County is restore the function, flexibility, and dexterity of your hands, fingers, or wrists. Preventative care is an equally important part of treating patients with hand-related problems. Seeking treatment sooner rather than later also increases your odds of reaching a point where hand pain goes away altogether or becomes manageable with appropriate medications and therapeutic exercises or techniques.