Hand Doctor: The 9 Questions to Ask

A hand doctor is a physician who has undergone highly specialized training in order to care for hands, fingers, wrists and forearms. These body parts are very complex and must be treated by professionals with extensive knowledge and expertise. A medical doctor that is certified by the American Society for Surgery of the Hand is one that has gone on for an additional year of study beyond the practice of orthopedics. Here are nine questions that people have for these experts:

1) How does movement occur in one's hands and fingers? They are actually moved around puppet-like with tendons instead of strings. There aren't muscles in the human finger but rather controlled by those that are located in palms and arms.

2) How many muscles does it take in the arms and palms to manipulate the tendons in a person's fingers? It takes a total of thirty-four muscles to perform the diverse functions of these digits.

3) Can carpal tunnel syndrome be prevented? Yes, many cases of carpal tunnel syndrome could indeed be prevented with stretching exercises and the curtailing of repetitive movements. Even a person who is employed in a field where repetitive motions are inherent, can take breaks and perform stretching techniques. Alternating tasks in fifteen minute incremental blocks can help, too.

4) What are some of the best ways to protects one's hands from injuries? Wearing gloves, paying attention when handling sharp tools, performing stretching exercises and utilizing tools with ergonomically correct handles can all help. Gloves protect from an array of injuries during gardening, carpentry and even inclement weather. Focusing on one task at a time rather than multi-tasking can prevent injuries when using knives, saws and scissors.

5) What portion of the body suffers from the most common athletic injuries? One out of four athletic injuries occurs on the upper extremities.

6) How is the skin on one's palm different than on other body regions? The tissue of the palm is highly unique. Not only are the surface patterns unique like fingerprints, this skin also differs in that it cannot grow hair, it doesn't tan and if a nerve is severed, the region will no longer sweat.

7) What are the most common treatments for maladies and conditions of the upper extremities, wrists and hands? It depends on the problem and individual but some normal courses of treatment include the use of anti-inflammatory medication, exercise, physical therapy, splints that support the region and surgery.

8) What is the more common type of arthritis in one's hands? Osteo-arthritis is the most common type arthritis. It affects more women than men. Arthritis is a condition caused by inflammation in the joints. This turns into stiffening, pain and limited movement ability. Exercise is considered extremely important for keeping mobility.

9) What are common birth defects in hands? Webbed fingers occur more often in Caucasian children and being born with an extra digit is more common in African American children.

When problems occur in a person's wrists, fingers, forearms or hands, they should consult an expert. The expert to call on is the local hand doctor.

By Abigail Aaronson

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