Hand Surgery

In this Article

What is hand surgery?

Hand surgery is a broad term that describes several different types of procedures for the wrist, hand, and fingers. These procedures may be minor or major, depending on the problem. Common reasons for hand surgery include:

  • Infections
  • Injuries
  • Problems with the joints or muscles, such as arthritis
  • Problems or deformities present at birth

There are many different types of surgeries that can be done on the hand. The procedure depends on what is causing the problem. The different surgical procedures include:

Skin grafts. Replacing or attaching a piece of skin to a part of the hand that is missing skin as a result of injuries, burns, or amputations.

Closed reduction and fixation. Realigning or fixing broken bones or bone fractures.

Tendon repair. Fixing a tendon that is infected or injured.

Nerve repair. Repairing or replacing damaged nerves in the hand.

Surgical drainage. Draining any pus or fluid from a sore or abscess in the hand. (This is common.)

Joint replacement (arthroplasty). Replaces joints in the hand that have been destroyed by arthritis or other causes.

Replantation. Reattachment of a severed finger or hand.

What are the risks and/or side effects?

The most common risks of any surgery are problems with anesthesia medicine and bleeding.

Other risks with hand surgery depend on the type of surgery being done and your overall health. Those risks may include:

  • Infection
  • Loss of feeling or movement in the hand or fingers
  • Blood clots
  • Damage to the nerves

What are the benefits?

The main benefits of hand surgery will depend on your condition. Generally, these are:

  • Pain relief from arthritis or infections
  • Recovery from trauma or injuries
  • Better function of the hand, fingers, and wrist
  • Enhanced appearance of the hands

How do I prepare?

Before choosing surgery, talk with your doctor about the risks of the surgery. The surgeon will tell you about how to manage pain and any medicines you are taking. You may also be asked to avoid taking aspirin or other mediciness that may increase bleeding.

If anesthesia will be used during your surgery, you will get special instructions about what and when to eat or drink before surgery. It is important that you follow these instructions exactly as your doctor ordered.

You may meet with a physical therapist before your surgery to talk about rehabilitation following the procedure.

How is it done or administered?

Depending on the type of surgery you are having, your procedure may be performed in an outpatient surgical facility or in a hospital.

If your surgery was performed in an outpatient surgery center, you will need to have a responsible person drive you home.

When will I know the results?

After your surgery, your doctor will talk with you about the procedure. Depending on the surgery, complete recovery may take several months.

What are follow-up requirements and options?

After your surgery, follow all home-care instructions from your doctor. You will need to arrange to go to all of your, follow-up and physical therapy appointments.

Be sure to call your doctor if you have:

  • Fever greater than 101°F (38°C)
  • Redness, pus, swelling, or a foul odor in the area of the surgery
  • Pain that doesn’t get better with medicine, or worsens

Hand surgery is a broad term that describes several different types of procedures. Hand surgery may be performed for a number of reasons including injuries, infections, and defects.