Hand pain is a common condition that affects many people. Dr. Nicholas Bontempo is an orthopedic surgeon at the Hartford HealthCare Bone & Joint Institute at Hartford Hospital with information on the latest advances in technology to treat the conditions that cause hand pain.
Q: What are some of the most common conditions that cause hand pain?
A: Some of the most common things that I see in my practice are nerve compressions, like carpal tunnel syndrome and cubital tunnel syndrome. Arthritis can also commonly affect the hand and wrist. I see many tendon issues, too.
Q: What are the treatments, surgical and non-surgical, when you have this kind of pain?
A: It depends on what condition you’re talking about. For example, if you’re talking specifically about nerve compressions, we’ll try a period of conservative treatment consisting of splinting the affected extremity at nighttime. If the patient fail to respond to this conservative treatment, then we have to work it up further and potentially consider surgery at a later date if indicated.
Q: How do you know when to talk to a doctor about hand pain? If you’ve got a pain in your wrist and it doesn’t go away after a week, is that the time to see the doctor? How long should you allow your body to heal itself if it’s capable of doing that?
A: I think it depends. If there’s a trauma, you had a fall or an injury, I think giving it a week or so to calm down on its own is a good idea. But if there’s no history of a trauma and it just starts bothering you out of the blue, I would probably have it evaluated sooner rather than later. It can’t hurt to go be evaluated, have an X-ray taken and just have an examination performed to make sure that you’re not missing anything bigger. And then we can talk at that time about what the conservative treatment options are for the condition that’s affecting the hand.
Q: What are some of the latest advances in technology for treatment of hand pain?
A: With thumb arthritis in particular, there has been a gold standard treatment for many, many years, but there is a newer type of implant on the horizon that can be used for thumb arthritis. It’s not for every patient. It’s for a selected group of patients. But if indicated, it can work very well and has very excellent outcomes.
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