When you need hand surgery, it’s crucial to find the best hand specialist to operate. It’s never wise to go to just any surgeon for hand surgery, because hand anatomy is quite complex. For surgery of the hand or wrist, you should seek out an acknowledged hand specialist.
If you’re not certain you really need hand surgery, it is especially important to consult a NJ hand specialist. Even though hand specialists are also hand surgeons, this does not mean that they will (or should) immediately suggest surgery as the solution to your hand pain, injury or joint disease.
If hand surgery is your best option, trained hand specialists are skilled in the latest surgical methods to treat hand, wrist and finger pain, injury, numbness, restricted movement or disfigurement. When your northern NJ hand surgeon also has plastic surgery or reconstructive surgery experience, you can expect the very best possible results from your hand surgery, both aesthetically and functionally.
Where to Look for a Hand Specialist
First, check out your hand surgeon’s qualifications, then schedule a consultation to make your final decision about your Bergen County hand surgeon. These are the qualities and qualifications you should look for and where to find them:
1. Consider reputation
An excellent source of information about hand specialists is family or friends and/or your family physician. Remember, however, that when all else is equal, such as medical education, background and surgical qualifications—the final decision is very personal. The surgeon who is best for someone else, even someone in your family with your same condition, may not be best for you. Referrals are a great starting point, however.
2. Look at background details and philosophy
Check out local surgeon’s website for basic biographical information about them and for insight into their way of thinking. You should find a CV/resume and details about medical training and experience beyond medical school.
3. Check the license
You should also check the hand specialist’s record and medical license with the state of NJ. This will reveal whether s/he is currently licensed and has a clean record with no disciplinary actions.
4. Consider education
You should also consider the medical and surgical training your prospective hand surgeon has received. Look at the medical school and residency that the hand specialist has completed. The best hand surgeons have completed a top tier medical education.
5. Seek out plastic surgery experience
Select a hand surgeon who is part of a plastic surgery practice. You want to ensure that your NJ hand specialist is focused on the appearance of your hands as well as the function. In fact, the way your hands look is intimately tied to how well they function.
For instance, a nose with a bump often still provides for proper breathing, but hands with bumps are usually hands with pain and/or limited function. If you are having joint replacement, for example, your hands should have a much more normal and pleasing appearance after successful surgery.
A plastic surgeon has the skills to ensure scars are well hidden in the creases of the hand and fingers. Plastic surgery training helps your hand specialist to ensure that outsized, enlarged joints are properly treated to look as normal and attractive as possible, while restoring their function. You should ideally seek a hand specialist with reconstructive experience for the very highest level of hand surgery skill.
6. Look for dedication
Your search for the best hand specialist in NJ gets personal at this point. This is when you meet with the hand surgeons you’ve researched. Use the consultation to ask questions about your hand problem, injury or joint disease.
Learn about the recommended treatment and any options. Evaluate the communication between you and your surgeon. Choose the hand specialist who takes time to explain your condition, your options and the surgery or treatment plan. Choose a surgeon that you can trust to have your best interest always in mind.
Conditions Most Commonly Treated by Hand Specialists
Arthritis: Joint damage from wear and tear, such as osteoarthritis and the progressive joint damage of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are commonly treated by hand specialists. RA can affect all the joints of the body, but the effects are most obvious in your hands. RA can deform joints of the fingers, limit the use of the hands and cause pain and swelling. In some cases, splinting, cortisone injections and other non-surgical treatments are sufficient to treat RA—and your surgeon will consider all solutions. In some cases, joint replacement may be necessary. Named Arthroplasty, the surgery replaces joints that have been destroyed by disease. An artificial joint may be made from plastic, silicone, metal or your own tendon. Your hand specialist should be able to explain the pros and cons of each type for your condition.
Carpal tunnel syndrome: Repetitive motion can cause pins and needles, pain and inflammation in the fingers, hands and wrists (extending even into the forearm). This comes about from nerve compression, crowding and pressure, specifically of the median nerve that passes through the bones of the wrist into the hand. Surgery is not typically necessary, if you see your hand specialist as soon as you notice the slight numbness or pain.
Compartment syndrome: Trauma may increase pressure within a particular fascia of the hand or wrist. Fascia are containers or spaces in the body that contain blood vessels (veins and arteries) and nerves. Pressure and inflammation affect circulation and sensation, making for extreme pain, weakness and discoloration of the affected area (as it is starved of nutrients and oxygen from your blood). To treat this problem, your hand specialist may perform a fasciotomy, where incisions release the pressure in the area and the surgeon may also remove damaged tissue.
Severed or damaged tendons: Treatment is referred to as primary repair when done the day an injury occurs. If treatment occurs less than a week after an injury is it known as delayed primary tendon repair. Secondary tendon repair may be done much later and can involve more complexity. This may include tendon grafting, where your hand specialist will transplant a tendon(s) from other parts of your body to replace a damaged tendon in the hand.
Nerve damage: Some nerve injuries heal on their own, but others may require surgery for nerve repair. Damage to the ulnar, median or radial nerve causes pain or numbness and may limit movement. Using advanced microsurgical techniques, your hand surgeon can reattach and repair a severed nerve by grafting nerve tissue from another body area.
Learn About Your Options for Hand Surgery in NJ
When you come to Cohen/Winters for expert advice about hand surgery, we will advise you as we would our family members. We really feel that it is our calling to help patients improve their lives, whether this means we perform surgery or not.
We are happy to answer your questions and determine how hand surgery might benefit you. Not every patient and every surgeon make a great team, so we never pressure patients to make a quick decision about surgery or about their chosen hand specialist.
If both patient and surgeon feel that we’re the best hand surgeons for you, we will partner with you for the best possible result from your hand surgery. To learn more, contact the Bergen County offices of Cohen/Winters Aesthetic & Reconstructive Surgery for a hand surgery consultation.