When You Need a Helping Hand
Hands and wrists are among the most active parts of the human body. Our hands and wrists help us to write, to move objects, and to eat and drink. We often don't appreciate them until they stop working properly, or cause pain.
Various conditions negatively affect the use of our hands and wrists, including range of motion injuries, repetitive motion injuries and arthritis. At Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center, our hand surgeons use leading technology including smaller incisions and new implants, to treat all types of hand and wrist disorders.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that leads to pain, tingling, numbness and reduced function of the hand and wrist. It is caused by compression of the median nerve in the wrist.
Women are much more likely to suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome, and the condition most often occurs in people ages 30 to 50. Carpal tunnel syndrome is more common in people who regularly put their hands and wrists to use in a forceful, repetitive manner (e.g., assembly-line workers, typists, checkout clerks).
In its early stages, carpal tunnel syndrome can be treated through the use of anti-inflammatory medication, a reduction or elimination of the repetitive activity, and wrist splints (especially for use at night). If the symptoms persist, cortisone injections are often the next step. If conservative measures fail, doctors may perform surgery to release the carpal tunnel, which takes pressure off of the median nerve.
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Of all the digits in the hand, the thumb is often considered to be the most important when it comes to grasping and maneuvering objects. With its ability to rotate and position itself towards the fingers of the hand, it acts as a stabilizer to the other fingers when gripping a pen, picking up a cup of coffee, and executing the thousands of other tasks for which we use our hands.
The joint at the base of the thumb, known as the basal joint, controls the thumb's movement. When the cartilage that cushions the basal joint begins to weaken, the deterioration may lead to pain, stiffness and loss of function. This condition, known as thumb arthritis, can occur in people who have a family history of arthritis, or who perform repetitive tasks that create a strain on the thumb joint.
Treatment may be as simple as reducing or eliminating activities that cause pain. Splinting the basal joint of the thumb, anti-inflammatory medications, or movement exercises that focus on range of motion — rather than on resistance or strengthening — may reduce pain. Massage, heat and/or ice can also provide pain relief. A hand surgeon may prescribe cortisone shots, or in more advanced cases, perform a total joint reconstruction or other surgical procedures.
Dupuytren's contracture is the formation of thick, scar-like tissue underneath the skin of the palm. This tissue may extend towards a finger or fingers, pulling them toward the palm and restricting motion. Dupuytren's contracture often develops in people over the age of 40, and while in some studies it has been linked to alcohol and tobacco use, or heredity, it has no definitive cause.
Surgery is the most effective treatment for Dupuytren's contracture. The surgeon will cut and remove the bands of thickened tissue, which frees the tendons and allows the affected fingers to be extended once again. Recently, however, the FDA approved a new injectable drug that allows doctors to treat Dupuytren's Contracture without surgery. Learn more about the new, non-surgical treatment for Dupuytren's Contracture
Ganglion cysts are soft-tissue lumps, or masses, that can develop in the hand and wrist. The fluid within these masses is similar to gelatin. The cysts are very common and are not cancerous. There is no definite cause; however some experts believe that they develop from a trauma to the wrist area, such as a fall onto an outstretched hand, or from a degeneration of tissue around the joints of the hand and wrist. Some ganglion cysts are painless, while others can be quite painful. Their presence may lead to restricted movement of the hand, fingers or wrist.
Treatment for ganglion cysts may include removing the fluid, which can result in less pain and a reduced appearance, or temporarily splinting the area to keep the hand and wrist from moving. However, if the more conservative treatments aren't successful, surgery may be performed to remove the cyst.
Hand Surgeons at Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center
Hand surgeons at Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center treat the conditions listed above and many more, including repetitive strain injuries, "skier's thumb," extensor and flexor tendon injuries, and finger deformities. In addition to providing state-of-the-art diagnosis and treatment, Saint Francis hand surgeons are involved in researching new techniques. As a result, they have access to a number of important resources for patients, including clinical studies.
For more information about hand surgery services, please call toll-free 1-877-STFRANCIS (1-877-783-7262).