Healthy and properly functioning hands are vital to everyday life.

Not only do they help you perform many of the basic tasks needed to survive, but they’re also key to performing more complex movements and actions.

The same goes for your wrists and elbows as well as your forearm and fingers.

An injury, or another source of pain or loss of motion, to these body parts is a serious issue that can have a big impact on your day-to-day lifestyle.

An orthopedic surgeon with hand, wrist, and elbow specialization can help.

Recommended Dallas-Fort Worth Hand, Wrist and Elbow Doctors

Orthopedic Surgery

Bret Beavers, MD

Dr. Beavers is an orthopedic surgery doctor serving the DFW metroplex. If you are having pain in a joint, torn or sprained a ligament, or have broken a bone contact his office for a consultation.


What Does Hand Orthopedics Cover?

An orthopedic hand specialist doesn’t just look at your hand. They also look at your wrist and elbow (as well as the entire musculoskeletal system).

They observe how each part works by itself and how they work together as a system. They also examine other parts of the body that can affect the hand, wrist, and elbow such as the shoulders, neck, and back.

An orthopedic surgeon helps diagnose, treat, and prevent a variety of issues with the hand, wrist, and elbow, including:

  • Sports Injuries
  • Traumatic Injuries
  • Overuse (/Repetitive Stress) Injuries)
  • Degenerative Conditions
  • Diseases and Disorders

Remember that timely treatment for injuries and illnesses in the hand is key to proper recovery.

Common Hand, Wrist, and Elbow Problems

Dozens upon dozens of issues affect the hand, wrist, and elbows, although a few occur more often than others. These include:

  • Arthritis – A stiffness in the joints that causes mild to severe pain and typically worsens with age.
  • Bent/Deformed Hands/Fingers – Injuries or illness can cause the tendons in the hands to deform and bend.
  • Bursitis – An inflammation or infection in the fluid-filled sac that lies at the tip of the elbow. It often causes loss of range of motion.
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – Occurs when the median nerve in the wrist is irritated leading to swelling, numbness, and pain.
  • Ganglion Cysts – Fluid-filled cysts, typically on the backs of the wrists, caused by inflammation in the tendons or ligaments. They’re non-cancerous.
  • Fractures – A broken bone in the hand, elbow, or wrist – most common in the fingers.
  • Mallet Finger – A finger that is difficult to straighten from being bent with too much force (or overused), sometimes resulting in bone or tendon damage.
  • Nerve Entrapment – Occurs when the tissue surrounding a nerve tightly squeezes it, causing pain and weakness.
  • Tennis Elbow – An inflammation of the tendon in the elbow, caused by repetitive stress on the wrist or forearm (such as repeatedly swinging a tennis racket).
  • Trigger Finger – A difficulty in fluidly opening and closing the fingers. Instead, the movement is harp and abrupt.

Non-Surgical Treatment Methods

Many hand problems don’t actually require surgery.

An orthopedic surgeon will start with a conservative approach. After diagnosing the problem, they’ll explore the use of non-surgical treatment methods.

The most common non-surgical treatment methods include:

  • RICE – Rest, ice, compression, and elevation.
  • Physical Therapy – Exercises, stretching, and heat treatment for rehabilitation.
  • Brace/Splint – A protective garment that allows an injured hand, wrist, or elbow to heal without further injury. 

Orthopedic specialists employ a multidisciplinary approach by using a combination of these treatment methods as well as medications and injections.

When Is Surgery Required?

Conservative treatment doesn’t heal all hand, wrist, and elbow problems.

In many cases, surgery is needed. This typically starts with a minimally invasive surgery through very small incisions for the fastest possible recovery time.

Laser surgery is another option that’s growing in popularity. Many orthopedic surgery doctors now recommend it for hand, wrist, and elbow problems.

More complex surgeries are used as required, typically for more serious or complex problems with the hand, wrist, or elbow.

A few of the more common hand, wrist, and elbow surgeries include:

  • Carpal Tunnel Release Surgery
  • Ligament Reconstruction Surgery
  • UCL Reconstruction (Tommy John Surgery)

No matter the type of surgery you require, your orthopedic surgeon will work closely with you to create an effective rehabilitation and recovery plan.

Self-Care Preventative Measures

There are a number of preventative measures you can take to hand injuries or minimize the chance of a minor injury becoming major.

  • RICE – Rest, ice, compression, and elevation helps heal minor injuries.
  • Over-the-Counter Medication – Can be used to combat minor pain.
  • Bandage – An alternative to a brace or splint for minor injuries, like slight sprains, to protect them while they heal.
  • Stretching/Warmup – Proper stretching and warmup before physical activity can help prevent injuries.
  • Rest – Don’t push through a minor injury. Taking time off to rest when you’re sore can prevent more serious injuries.

Risk Factors

Anyone can experience hand, wrist, and elbow pain, but a few key risk factors make it more common:

  • Health Conditions – Certain health conditions, like arthritis or osteoporosis, puts you at a greater risk for hand problems.
  • Activity/Job/Lifestyle – Hand, wrist, and elbow problems are common among athletes as well as those with jobs that require physical labor.

When Do You Need to See an Orthopedic Specialist?

See your doctor as soon as you first notice symptoms of wrist, elbow, or hand pain.

Pain is the most common symptom of injury or illness. Loss of strength or range of motion in the affected body part are also frequent.

Other common symptoms include swelling, sticking sensation, numbness, or tingling. Basically, anytime your hands, wrists, or elbows feeling off, it’s time to see a doctor.

Remember that even tolerable levels of pain can signal a major problem. Because of the importance of the hands, as well as the high amount of use they receive, it’s essential to seek medical advice if pain persists for more than two or three days.

Contact an orthopedic surgeon right away if you feel you need focused advice.