When people injure their hand or wrist and are concerned they may have a fracture or other injury, they often seek treatment immediately in the emergency department. Often parents of young children want peace of mind and go to an emergency department to get an x-ray. Unfortunately, the end result is usually a large bill and instructions to follow-up with an orthopedic surgeon. Unless there is severe pain, deformity, crushed tissue or open wounds, there is no need to rush to an emergency department or urgent care for treatment.
Getting the Right Care at the Right Time in the Right Place
If you have an injury to the hand or wrist, it is important to have the injury properly assessed and treated. We encourage patients to make an appointment as soon as possible. Some patients wait to see if the injury gets better with time and only seek treatment if it does not get better, and others may have heard x-rays should wait until the swelling goes down. Neither is true. It is better to get an accurate diagnosis as soon as possible. In many cases, delay in diagnosis makes treatment more difficult.
The ideal time frame to be seen with a hand or wrist injury is as soon as you can – the next business day if possible. We recommend you either make an appointment with an orthopedic specialist or go to an orthopedic walk-in facility where you do not need an appointment to be seen. In the meantime, while you are waiting to see an orthopedic specialist, purchase a splint or brace at a pharmacy to immobilize the injured area. An over-the-counter splint for a finger or a brace for the wrist can be very helpful in providing comfort and protection.
OrthoTexas has convenient walk-in hours Monday through Thursday from 4 pm – 6 pm in Frisco and Carrollton and a morning walk-in clinic Monday through Friday from 7:15 am – 7:45 am in Carrollton. You can have x-rays taken and be seen by an orthopedic specialist at a regular specialist visit charge to your insurance. This can save money and time getting an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.
Common Signs of an Injury that Need Care from an Orthopedic Hand Specialist
- Any deformity in the hand or wrist
- Swelling in the affected area
- Pain with movement or decreased range of motion
- Laceration that has caused limited movement or numbness
Even if you do not have these symptoms, but you have any injury that is causing pain, limited range of motion, tingling or numbness it is important to be evaluated. Finger fractures are not always deformed or significantly swollen but still may require surgery to be properly aligned. Even if you can bend or move it, there may still be a fracture. Some fractures, usually in the wrist, cannot be seen on an x-ray and may require an MRI. Dislocated joints or jammed fingers can result in ligament or tendon injuries that need to be accurately diagnosed and treated to avoid long-term deficits. Without proper care and diagnosis, some injuries result in permanent stiffness, decreased range of motion, joint laxity, or even post-traumatic arthritis.
Expert Care from the Right Expert
There are 27 bones, 27 joints, 34 muscles, over 100 ligaments and tendons, and many blood vessels and nerve in our hand and wrist. An orthopedic hand surgeon has in-depth knowledge of this complex anatomy and extensive training in treating hand and wrist problems. It is also important to note that a hand surgeon is qualified to diagnose and treat injuries both surgically and non-surgically.
We use our hands and fingers daily working, performing activities of daily living, and playing sports or instruments. It is important to make sure that if your hand or wrist is injured, proper care is provided from a doctor who specializes in treating such injuries so proper pain free function exists for years to come.
Victoria Knoll, MD, is an orthopedic surgeon at OrthoTexas and is specialty trained in hand and wrist injuries.