Dr. Timothy LeeBurton, a Memorial Medical Group hand surgeon, explains what conditions he treats and why special skill is required for hand surgery.
What kind of conditions do you treat as a hand surgeon?
The most common new patient that I see is someone who has either arthritic changes, tendonitis, or a nerve compression. The most common nerve compression in the upper extremity is carpal tunnel. The most common arthritic changes are usually at the base of the thumb or in other areas of the hand or wrist, and the most common tendonitis that we see is usually around the wrist. There's a fair amount of tendonitis at the elbow too.
Why does hand surgery require special expertise?
A lot of general orthopedic surgeons stay away from the wrist and hand. There's a lot of nerves, tendons, and ligaments, and it's in a confined space. When people have a problem with bigger joints, it's pretty straightforward most of the time. With the hand, people are more cognizant of what's going on with their hands, more so than probably most other places in their entire body. Whether it's some loss of sensation or some loss of dexterity, it's pretty evident with activities of daily living and just living life.