Our hands are incredibly versatile and vital in our daily lives. They perform intricate tasks and convey emotions, making them an integral part of our identities. However, due to their complexity and delicacy, our hands are prone to injuries and discomfort. If you've been experiencing pain or recently suffered an injury, it's worth considering surgery on hand as a potential solution. Hand surgery, performed by specialized hand surgeons, can address a range of issues, including nerve injuries and tendon injuries.

In this blog, we will delve into the significance of hand health and how seeking professional assistance, such as GPOA in Pittsburg, PA, can help determine if hand surgery is the right option for you.

Do You Have a Diagnosis of a Hand Injury?

Sometimes all a hand injury requires is ice, elevation, and a few days of disuse, such as if you have sprained your wrist or jammed a finger. Other times, you may have received a diagnosis for a hand injury that is more serious or that requires more treatment than you can get at an urgent care clinic, ER, or at home. Common diagnoses for hand injuries include:

Wrist Pain

Pain in the wrist can indicate various conditions, such as strain, sprain, or even a hairline fracture. If wrist pain worsens with movement but is not caused by bone damage, it may be a sign of swelling or injury that requires diagnosis by a hand specialist. Tendonitis of the wrist and overuse from sports like tennis and golf can also affect blood flow and contribute to wrist pain, requiring treatment from a hand surgeon.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common hand and wrist condition characterized by hand numbness. It occurs when the median nerve in the wrist is compressed, causing tingling in the hands (especially the thumbs and pointer fingers) and sometimes the entire arm. This condition is treatable and varies in severity. While some cases don't require surgery, those with significant median nerve damage may benefit from consulting a hand specialist.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a common chronic autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks the joints. In the hands, it starts with stiffness in the wrist, knuckles, and fingers. Over time, joint inflammation, stiffness, swelling, and immobility occur. Untreated, it can impact motor function, increase infection risk, and cause chronic pain. Surgical treatment involves replacing diseased tissues with cushions to separate the bones in the hand.

Degenerative Arthritis

Degenerative arthritis, also known as osteoarthritis, is a form of joint pain caused by overuse of the hands and wrists. Severe arthritis is commonly found in older individuals who have overused their hands throughout their lives, leading to the deterioration of cartilage between the hand bones. This causes swelling and significant pain. Treatment for severe arthritis is similar to that used for rheumatoid arthritis.

Tendon Ruptures

A tendon rupture, such as a trigger finger, can occur due to an injury to the tendon caused by high-impact force, serious hand injuries resulting in deep cuts, or sports-related incidents. This can lead to weakness in the hand and difficulty bending joints without pain. In addition to tendon ruptures, it is important to consider hand and finger function as well as other upper extremity related concerns. Treatment options for tendon ruptures may include surgery or alternative therapies.


Fractures are bone breaks that require setting for proper healing. Hand and wrist fractures can range from hairline fractures to shattered or clean breaks, all of which can be surgically repaired. The method of bone setting varies depending on the type of fracture and may involve invasive procedures. Neglecting to treat hand fractures can result in reduced mobility and persistent pain.

Other Conditions

You may have been diagnosed with other conditions to explain hand or wrist pain. One example is a TFCC tear, which occurs when the cartilage connecting the wrist to the hand is severely damaged, causing mobility loss and intense pain. Treatment involves removing the cartilage from the hand, which may result in lifelong impairment.

Types of Hand Surgery

Hand surgeries are complex procedures often performed by highly specialized plastic surgeons. These surgical interventions aim to restore the function and appearance of the hands affected by injury, disease, or congenital defects. Here, we'll discuss some common types of hand surgery that repair nerves, restore movement, and enhance overall hand health.

Nerve Graft

Nerve grafts are one of the common surgeries to repair nerves in the hand. The procedure entails the use of a graft (a piece of nerve) that is taken from another part of the patient's body and implanted into the damaged area to aid nerve growth and restore function.

Tendon Grafts

Tendon grafts are surgical procedures that involve the replacement of a damaged tendon with a graft. The graft is typically obtained from another part of the patient's body, such as the foot or forearm, and is used to restore the normal movement of the hand.

Joint Replacement (Arthroplasty)

Joint replacement, also known as arthroplasty, involves replacing a diseased or damaged joint with an artificial joint. This procedure can reduce pain and improve the function of the hands, especially in patients suffering from severe arthritis.

Stay tuned as we delve deeper into these surgical procedures, discussing their indications, procedures, and post-operative care.

How Is My Qualification for Surgery Determined?

If you have hand injury symptoms or a diagnosis from another doctor, surgery may be an option. However, having a referral to GPOA doesn't guarantee automatic surgical treatment. Our hand specialists will review your medical records to determine the best course of action, whether it's surgery or another treatment.

Consultations are crucial in assessing the need for surgery. They involve discussing how you got injured, your pain, and any other symptoms. If surgery is required, your specialist will explain the procedure and recovery expectations.

To assess the extent of your injury, your hand surgeon may require x-rays and tests to measure strength and range of motion.

What Will Treatment Involve?

Your treatment will vary based on the type of hand injury. Each injury is unique, so your plan will be customized to your needs. Hand surgeries may involve resetting bones, removing damaged cartilage, and repairing ruptured tendons. Other treatment aspects may include:

  • Hardware: For severe fractures, wires or pins may be installed on hand bones. If there is significant damage to cartilage or joints, foreign materials like cushions, screws, and metal plates may be used to stabilize the hand injury.
  • Casting: Most surgical patients require a cast, which generally covers the wrist and hand partially, restricting wrist movement while healing. Casts are made of plaster and fiberglass.
  • Braces: If a cast is not needed, a brace may be provided to immobilize the injury during healing. Some patients with casts may also be given braces to wear after cast removal, reducing the risk of re-injury.
  • Physical Therapy Rehab: Most patients undergo physical therapy to rehabilitate hand and wrist mobility. Occupational therapy helps patients relearn daily tasks. Rehabilitative therapy restores strength, and range of motion, and teaches injury prevention.

Physical therapy duration depends on the specific hand injury, treatment, and progress in the program.

How Long Will My Recovery Be?

The length of your recovery depends on your injury and treatment. For instance, a fracture may require a cast for about 8 weeks. Other hand surgeries may have longer recovery times, especially if they are invasive or involve hardware installation. Your hand specialist will provide recovery expectations.

Who Is Qualified For A Surgery?

Determining your need for surgery will be done by a hand specialist who will examine your injury, as well as other tests you have completed. Patients who are qualified for surgery generally have a diagnosis or significant symptoms, such as:

  • Pain
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Immobility
  • Swelling
  • Shattered bones or bones piercing the skin
  • Stiffness in hand joints
  • Inability to bend or flex fingers

Ease Your Pain With Hand Surgery at GPOA

If you have pain in your hand or a hand injury that is intruding on your ability to function normally each day, you might need attention from a hand specialist to diagnose and treat you. If you want to seek more information about your qualification for hand surgery, contact Greater Pittsburgh Orthopedic Associates serving Brackenridge, Shadyside, Moon Township, Sewickley, and Cranberry Township, PA today.