Arm, hand, wrist & elbow

It isn’t easy to live without the full use of a hand or arm, or with wrist or elbow pain and swelling. 

The orthopedic specialists at Edward-Elmhurst Health use the latest, minimally-invasive techniques, along with advanced pain relief and rapid recovery surgical techniques, to help you heal faster and get back to life as usual sooner.

Treatments for arm, hand, wrist and elbow issues

The expert surgeons at our Orthopedic Centers treat the full range of arm, hand, wrist and elbow issues, including:

  • Wrist fracture (distal radius facture, scaphoid fracture), finger and hand fractures
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome, cubital tunnel syndrome
  • Trigger finger, de Quervain's tenosynovitis, Dupuytren's contracture release
  • Lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow)
  • Flexor tendon injuries
  • Arthritis
  • Nerve lacerations/injuries

Physicians often recommend non-surgical therapies first before hand/wrist surgery. Our board-certified orthopedic specialists and physical and occupational therapists will work with you to resolve your issue using splints/casts, steroid injections, anti-inflammatory medication or other non-surgical therapies.

Treating tennis elbow

About 80-95 percent of patients with tennis elbow have success with non-surgical treatments. Tennis elbow is a painful condition of the elbow caused by overuse. Most people who get tennis elbow are between ages 30-50, and many participate in sports like tennis, or activities like painting or carpentry — anything that involves repeating the same motions again and again.

If you have tennis elbow, doctors may recommend giving your arm proper rest for several weeks, with or without a brace. Anti-inflammatory medicines may help with pain and swelling, and physical therapy may help strengthen the muscles of the forearm.

No matter what condition you’re dealing with, if symptoms are severe or don’t improve after some time, surgery may be the right option for you.

Who are candidates for hand/wrist surgery?

Patients who have hand/wrist surgery can range in age from babies to seniors. The goal of surgery is to relieve pain or numbness and restore function.

Most people who undergo surgery have been unsuccessful with conservative management, such as splints, casts or corticosteroid injections. For instance, many patients who consider carpal tunnel release surgery have unremitting numbness and/or muscle weakness from long standing carpal tunnel syndrome.

What does hand/wrist surgery involve?

Before surgery, you’ll meet with your orthopedic surgeon to assess your situation. You may get X-rays as part of your evaluation. Your surgeon may recommend a formal occupational therapy regimen to encourage pain-free wrist and finger motion.

For wrist fractures, your doctor may recommend you wear a splint or cast for a period of time to help align the bones and support the wrist. Other fractures may need surgery to put the bones back together and hold them in place.

During a hand/wrist procedure, your surgeon will fix the fracture internally using pins, screws and/or plates, or with bars and rods on the outside of the skin. If you’re missing bone, you may need bone grafting. If you have a severe fracture, you may need a joint replacement.

The goal of a carpel tunnel release procedure is to alleviate pressure around the median nerve in the carpal tunnel. During the procedure, your surgeon will cut through, or “release,” the transverse carpal ligament that is pressing down on the carpal tunnel, either by a minimally invasive incision or using an endoscopic approach.

Most hand/wrist procedures are outpatient. Many times, surgery can be performed without the need for deep anesthesia. In select patients, it can be performed with local anesthesia alone.

What is the recovery from hand/wrist surgery like?

Recovery from hand/wrist surgery varies depending on individual patient factors, including the type of issue you’re dealing with and the severity of your condition. Some procedures can take a few weeks to a few months to heal, and other, more complex injuries can take up to a year to recover from.

After a carpal tunnel release procedure, most patients are able to use their hand and fingers the day of surgery. Many return to light activities by two weeks after surgery, and to heavy activities one month post-surgery.

Many patients start occupational therapy or hand therapy about a week or so after a hand/wrist procedure. You may be advised to keep your fingers moving to keep them from getting stiff. Your surgeon will be in close contact with you and your occupational therapist to help you regain strength, motion and function as quickly as possible.

Your orthopedic team will also work closely with you to help manage your pain, which should gradually diminish during the course of your recovery depending on your hand/wrist issue. For instance, after a carpal tunnel release procedure, many patients require very little to no pain medications at all. We’ll work with you to control your pain without relying heavily on narcotics.

Learn more about orthopedic rehabilitation at Edward-Elmhurst Health.

Why choose us for your arm, hand, wrist and elbow care?

If chronic hand, wrist or elbow pain or numbness is disrupting your life, we can help. The Orthopedic Centers at Edward-Elmhurst Health offer a state-of-the-art environment with a personalized touch.

We have nearly 130 doctors who specialize in orthopedic surgery. All of our hand surgeons also have CAQH (Certificate of Added Qualifications in Hand Surgery) certification.

We use a team-based approach, starting from the initial evaluation and electro-diagnostics, to surgical intervention and therapy services as needed. We are committed to improving your hand and wrist function, and relieving any pain or numbness, so you can get back to life as usual.