While often overlooked, the significance of the human hands cannot be overemphasized.
Typical day-to-day activities like writing, eating, working, creating art, and dressing becomes difficult, if not impossible to perform without functioning hands.
Unfortunately, overuse, injuries, and trauma can sometimes result to hand problems.
Course of treatment can range from noninvasive options to orthopaedic hand surgery.
Treatment option however will depend on the severity of the condition.
While not all conditions that affect the hands require orthopaedic hand surgery, there are instances when it is the best treatment option available.
Below are some common hand conditions that require surgery and what patients can expect while recovering:
Dupuytren’s contracture fasciectomy
This is a condition which develops when a tissue is formed in the fingers and the palm of the hands. While the condition is not painful, it might form bands that might cause the fingers to curl.
Surgery is often recommended to release the fingers and remove the tissue. The procedure does not require hospitalization so the patient can go home a few hours after the surgery.
While the skin will already heal after two to three weeks, it will take as long as 12 weeks before the patient can have full use of the hands again.
Patients are also taught hand exercises and the hand’s function and movement will also be monitored. While not needed in most cases, a night splint might be recommended in some instances.
Carpal tunnel release
When pressure is put on the median nerve as it passes through the wrist, carpal tunnel syndrome often develops. Common symptoms of the condition include numbness and pain. To ease nerve pressure, surgery might be required.
Patients will need to wear a bandage on the hand and wrist for a week or two after the surgery. After 10 to 14 days, the stitches will be removed. Patients can already use the thumb and fingers but performing heavy tasks will still be prohibited.
In most cases, moving the fingers is recommended to help ensure the tendons and the nerve does not get caught up in the scar tissue. Patients often recover in less than a month but it will likely take much longer to get the feelings in the hands back.
In some instances, the scar may become sensitive and may become painful for a few months. However, the ache and the sensitivity will often disappear without treatment.
Tendon ruptures in the hand or wrist is rare. Most cases of tendon ruptures are often secondary to rheumatoid arthritis or other kinds of inflammatory arthritis.
Patients will have to wait for at least six weeks for the repaired tendons to completely heal. Until such time, the patient will be asked to refrain from using the hand. A splint might also be required to help protect the tendons while it heals.
Knuckle replacement (MCP joint)
Metacarpophalangeal (MCP joints) or rheumatoid arthritis of the knuckles may result to deformity and damage. The condition can significantly reduce hand function and can be very painful.
When using the hand becomes very difficult, surgery to replace the knuckles (with artificial joints) will be carried out. The procedure will help improve the positioning of the fingers and minimize pain.
Resting the hand for a few days will be required before rehabilitation will commence. Exercises that will help move the fingers will also be taught.
When not exercising, wearing a splint during the day will be recommended. Wearing nightly splints for a few months will also be required in some cases. Patients will also be given advice on ways to look after the new artificial joints.