What is Hand Surgery?

Hand Surgery is the field of medicine that specifically deals with problems of the hand, wrist and forearm. The hand is a unique and complex part of the human body consisting of numerous different structures such as soft tissue, bone, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles, nerves and blood vessels. Theses structures must work in unison in order for the hand to properly function. Any disruption of the delicate balance of these structures, either by injury or disease, will impair hand function. Common hand problems include carpal tunnel syndrome, deQuervain’s syndrome, work-related injuries, trigger finger, wrist pain, sports injuries, fractures, arthritis, nerve and tendon injuries.

Not all problems treated by a Hand Surgeon require surgery. Many of these problems can be treated non-surgically such as with medication, splints, casts, occupational therapy or steroid injections. However, other problems must be treated surgically by the Hand Surgeon who is specifically trained to operate when necessary.

The Hand Surgeon has special expertise to diagnose and treat problems related to the different structures in the hand, wrist and forearm. Hand Surgeons are Orthopedic, Plastic or General Surgeons who have additional training in surgery of the hand. In order to become a member of the American Society for Surgery of the Hand (ASSH), a Hand Surgeon must complete a full year of additional training by way of a Hand Fellowship and must pass a rigorous certifying examination to obtain a Certificate of Added Qualification in Hand Surgery (CAQHS). Established in 1946, the ASSH is the oldest medical specialty society in the United States. The ASSH is devoted entirely to continuing medical education related to hand surgery.