Our hands serve many purposes. Hands help us eat, dress, write, earn a living, create art and do many other activities. To accomplish these tasks and activities, our hands require sensation and movement, such as joint motion, tendon gliding and muscle contraction.
The field of hand surgery deals with both surgical and non-surgical treatment of conditions and problems that may take place in the hand or upper extremity (commonly from the tip of the hand to the shoulder) including injury and infection. It also encompasses reconstructive surgery that improves upper limb function.
When a problem takes place in the hand, care must be given to all the different types of tissues that make function of the hand possible. Hand surgeons are specifically trained to give care in the following conditions:
A typical hand surgery operation is performed as a day-case under a regional anaesthetic (injected in the armpit or above the shoulder, to numb the entire arm); the patient is awake or lightly sedated, according to preference. General anaesthesia and/or overnight stay in hospital are unusual but are required for some operations on the hand, such as in children or when surgery is prolonged. A few operations can be performed under local anaesthesia (injected beneath the skin at the site of surgery).
The surgeon uses fine instruments to handle the delicate structures in the hand, and may use magnifying glasses (loupes) or an operating microscope for repair of the small nerves and arteries in the hand.