Have you noticed lately that you’ve had to stop doing something, mid-activity, because your hands just haven’t been “working right”? Have you been asking yourself questions like, “why can’t I use my hands like I used to? Should I just live with it?” Well, there are many common hand conditions affecting people of all ages, and what’s better in this day and age is that there are a myriad of effective treatment options available to help resolve them. As a hand and upper extremity fellowship trained orthopedic surgeon, I’m here to tell you that there are many treatment options available to help commonly encountered hand problems. So, no, you shouldn’t just “live with it”.
One of the common misconceptions that I’ve often encountered with patients is that they think that their problems are due to advanced age/getting older. People often tell me that they’ve held off on coming in for treatment because they felt resigned. People should not “just live with it” because they’re getting older. Rather than attributing it to “old age” and “learning to live with it”, why not be proactive and do something about it to get back to the quality of life that you want.
Another common history that I encounter from patients is that they wait for extended periods of time before actually seeking help because they don’t know who to ask or what options are even available. By writing and sharing this article, I hope to provide some useful information in hopes to improve the health and quality of lives for people with these everyday treatable conditions.
Trigger finger is a condition that involves soft tissue inflammation of the tendons/pully system which help you bend your fingers (finger flexor tendons/pulley system). Common complaints associated with this condition include pain, stiffness, locking and catching of the fingers. Patients often describe symptoms of soreness in the palm and fingers feeling “like they’re getting stuck”.
Joints are the contact areas between bones. Cartilage covers the bone at these contact surfaces to act as a sort of cushion to protect the bone ends from stress/forces. Arthritis involves inflammation of joints. Different things can cause protective cartilage layers to wear away or even breakdown. Interestingly, not all patients with arthritis have pain. Treatment recommendations depend on the type and amount of arthritic pain someone experiences.
Finger and hand numbness/tingling are often a result of nervous system tissue (i.e., nerves) being irritated, inflamed, compressed, or traumatized. A thorough history and physical examination is important to help determine the location and source of the problem that is causing your symptoms. It’s a little like detective work because there can be many different anatomic areas that can be causing your finger and/or hands to feel numb or painful. The treatment options available are dependent on the source of the symptoms.
Simple and effective early treatment options for some of the common hand conditions as discussed above include over the counter (OTC) oral anti-inflammatory medications, rest, outpatient hand therapy and even cortisone injections, which can be provided in the office.
In addition to cortisone injections for arthritic pain, there are also other various injection treatment options that can provide pain relief including platelet rich plasma (PRP), orthobiologics, and stem cells injections. If you are a candidate for these injection treatment options, they can often be provided for in the office setting as well.
If symptoms continue to recur or persist, then surgery can offer great results to completely resolve the problem, or at least improve your pain. For instance, surgery for persistent trigger finger has great outcomes to completely resolve the problem so that it never recurs.
Surgical intervention for symptomatic arthritis is another treatment option that is available, especially if nonoperative treatment modalities do not help. However, there is not a one size fits all surgical plan since the treatment options should be tailored to the problems of each individual person and their expectations for outcomes.
If you have any symptoms consistent with the common hand conditions discussed above, or have any other questions or concerns that you’d like to discuss about upper extremity health issues, take the easy next step to seek out care from a trusted hand/upper extremity fellowship trained orthopedic surgeon.