What is hand surgery?
Hand surgery may be performed for various reasons, including infection to the hand, injury to the hand, or to correct long-term conditions affecting the hand. Surgery may be done on different areas of the hand, and it can be advised to correct either the bones or soft tissues in the hand. Hand surgery is usually performed by either a general surgeon, an orthopaedic surgeon, or a plastic surgeon.
Why is hand surgery performed?
Hand surgery is often performed to correct the following conditions:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Trigger finger
- Hand injuries and trauma
- Tendon repair
- Joint replacement
- Congenital defects
- Inflammatory arthritis
- Dupuytren’s contracture
- A bone deformity or extra growth (such as metacarpal bossing)
What does hand surgery involve?
Surgery on the hand varies depending on the type of condition it is attempting to correct. Many surgeries are performed as minor day case operations, meaning the patient can leave the hospital on the same day the operation is performed. Some operations are performed under local anaesthetic, meaning the patient is awake. Day-case operations are usually preferred as they allow for quicker healing time.
What is the aftercare for surgery?
Surgery may also be accompanied with physiotherapy or visits to a specialist who will show the patient how to strengthen their hand and monitor movement and function. Depending on the surgery, a splint may also be advised to help along the healing process. Healthcare providers will schedule follow-up appointments to check progress. In some cases stitches may need removing. Depending on the surgery, it can take around a month or longer to fully heal and be back to normal.
How to prepare for hand surgery
Before any type of surgery, discuss the procedure and its potential risks with your surgeon. Any type of surgery, even minimally invasive, carries risks, and it is important to be aware of what could happen. Ask your doctor, surgeon or healthcare provider to explain anything that you do not understand before surgery. Your general health will also be checked to make sure you will not have any problems going under a general anaesthetic, should this be used during the procedure.
Before going for surgery, plan your visit to the hospital, as you will have to do things one-handed afterwards. Think about the clothing you will wear, the route you will take, and if you need a friend to come help you with transport. Talk to your surgeon to be clear on the procedure and understand what is expected of you on the day.