Many people have asked me what hand surgery is. Does it include just the hand? Does it include the wrist, elbow, or rest of the upper extremity? It's a difficult topic to answer but hand surgery typically includes surgery of the fingers, hand, wrist, forearm and elbow. Some hand surgeons are comfortable moving up the extremity and perform shoulder surgery as well. Many times, what a surgeon will treat has to do with his/her underlying surgical training. Traditionally, hand surgeons are those who received a fellowship in hand surgery after their residency training. Many hand surgeons 50 years ago initially were general surgeons. However, over the years, this has changed and most individuals who now get hand fellowships are orthopedic surgeons, followed by plastic surgeons, and finally general surgeons. So chances are, if you perform an internet search, most of the hand surgeons you see will have performed a 5 year residency in orthopedic training, which specializes in disorders of the musculoskeletal system. This is the training that I have received. I also spent another year on just hand and upper extremity surgery, including microvascular surgery. Microvascular surgery is surgery on small structures such as nerves and blood vessels. For example, a person who accidentally cuts his fingers off will go to a surgeon with microvascular surgeon so that he/she may reattach the finger. Additonally, microvascular surgeons are familiar with performing skin flaps or skin grafts to cover defects in the skin.
So in conclusion, hand surgery generally refers to surgery of the upper extremity. In my practice, I will see individuals for their entire upper extremity, including pediatric upper extremity issues. So the next time you have pain in your arm, a fracture of a bone, or a condition involving nerves or vessels, call us to make an appointment.