Hand Repair and Rehabilitation

What is hand repair and rehabilitation?

Hand repair refers to hand surgery, a broad term that covers many different types of procedures. Plastic and orthopaedic surgeons who perform hand surgery seek to restore hand and finger function, but they also try to make the hand look as normal as possible.

Types of hand repair surgeries

Many different types of surgeries can be performed on the hand, depending on the underlying condition and symptoms. These procedures include:

  • Skin grafts — Skin grafts involve replacing or attaching skin to a part of the hand that has missing skin.
  • Skin flaps — Like a skin graft, a skin flap involves taking skin from another part of the body. But this procedure uses skin that has its own blood supply. That’s because the section of skin that is used includes the underlying blood vessels, fat and muscles.
  • Closed reduction and fixation — This type of surgery realigns the broken bone and then holds it in place, or immobilizes it while it heals.
  • Tendon repairs — Tendon repair is a difficult surgery because of the structure of the tendon. Tendon injuries can occur due to infection, trauma, or sudden rupture. There are three types of tendon repair: primary, delayed primary, or secondary.
    • Primary repair of an acute or sudden injury is often done within 24 hours of the injury. This is usually a direct surgery to fix the injury.
    • Delayed primary repair is usually done a few days after the injury, but while there is still an opening in the skin from the wound.
    • Secondary repairs may occur two to five weeks or longer after the injury. They may include tendon grafts from other areas of the body.
  • Nerve repairs — An injury can damage the nerves in the hand. This can cause a loss of hand function and a loss of feeling in the hand.
  • Fasciotomy — This procedure is done to help treat compartment syndrome. This painful condition occurs when there is swelling and increased pressure in a small space, or compartment, in the body.
  • Surgical drainage or debridement — Hand infections are very common. If there is a sore or abscess in the hand, surgical drainage may help remove any pus.
  • Joint replacement — This type of surgery, also called arthroplasty, is used in cases of severe hand arthritis. It involves replacing a joint that has been destroyed by arthritis with an artificial joint.
  • Replantation — This type of surgery reattaches a body part, such as a finger or hand, which has been completely severed from the body.

Recovery and rehabilitation after hand surgery

In many cases, surgery is just the start of the recovery. Intensive rehabilitation may be necessary to regain optimal functioning of the hand. Therapy of the hand may include the following:

  • Exercises for the hand
  • Heat therapy
  • Massage therapy
  • Nerve stimulation
  • Splinting
  • Traction

It's important to follow all of the instructions given to you after surgery by your doctor and any other specialists who are involved in your care.


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