Dr. Damon Cooney, a microvascular
surgeon, examines a patient’s hand.
Hand injuries and conditions—from injuries to carpal tunnel syndrome to rheumatoid arthritis—can be mildly irritating or severely debilitating. Whether mild or severe, they often inhibit a person’s ability to live his or her life fully. In some cases, a person may not be able to work, play with children or grandchildren, enjoy recreational activities, or get dressed or do other types of daily living activities.
When the injury or condition becomes severe, surgery may be the solution that can best restore function to the affected area and alleviate pain. A hand surgeon operates on the hand and the lower arm up to the elbow. Many conditions and injuries may call for hand surgery, including:
- Abnormally shaped fingers or hands
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Ganglion cysts
- DeQuervain’s disease
- Dupuytren’s disease
- Flexor tendon injuries
- Mallet finger
- Missing fingers, thumb
- Nailbed injuries
- Polydactyly (extra fingers)
- Reflex sympathetic dystrophy
- Syndactyly (webbed fingers)
- Trigger finger
- Ulnar nerve compression
- Vascular disorders
Most common hand conditions
Carpal tunnel syndrome
The most common condition requiring surgical intervention is carpal tunnel syndrome, which is caused by pressure on the median nerve in the wrist. Symptoms may include tingling, pain, numbness, or weakness in the thumb through ring fingers of the affected hand. Nerve compression can be caused by a number of things, including repetitive motions, injury, cysts, and tumors. For many patients, there may not be an identifiable source of the nerve compression. To relieve the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome or other nerve compression conditions through surgery, the reconstructive surgeon makes an incision in the elbow or wrist and relieves the compression, either by giving the nerve more room, removing a cyst or tumor, or moving the nerve. Read more about carpal tunnel syndrome in Johns Hopkins Health, our community newsletter about the latest advances in medicine.
When the normally smooth surfaces of a joint become irregular and don’t glide well anymore, the joint wears out, resulting in arthritis—or painful joints. Several kinds of surgery can relieve the inflammation and pain caused by arthritis and, in some cases, can also restore mobility.
With joint fusion surgery, the reconstructive surgeon will remove the arthritic surface and fuse the bones on each side of the joint together. While this type of surgery keeps the joint from moving, it does relieve pain and correct deformities that may interfere with daily living activities. Read more about joint reconstruction surgery in Cutting Edge, a Department of Surgery publication.
Joint reconstruction surgery replaces the arthritic surface with soft tissue, like a tendon, or a joint replacement implant. This surgery can relieve the pain of arthritis while preserving mobility of the joint. The reconstructive surgeon consults with the patient and other doctors to determine what type of surgery would be the best solution for the patient’s needs.
Why choose Johns Hopkins for reconstructive hand surgery?
At Johns Hopkins, in Baltimore, Maryland, our reconstructive hand surgery expertise can restore hands so that patients can return to the lives they enjoyed before an injury or disease disabled them. Fellowship training in hand surgery, after specializing in surgery and completing residencies in plastic and reconstructive surgery, allows us to perform any kind of surgery needed to correct injuries and conditions in the hand and lower arm.
All of our reconstructive surgeons have learned about and, in many cases, developed and taught the latest and most effective surgical techniques. In addition, because they work at Johns Hopkins, they can call on any other kind of medical expertise needed right at the facility, from orthopedists and rheumatologists to neurologists and pediatricians.
They are devoted to their profession and to providing attentive patient care. From the first consultation to the final check-up, our reconstructive surgeons make themselves available and accessible to patients and their families.