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When you hear the words “hand surgery” many different things may come to mind. This is a general term that refers to the many different types of hand procedures. The goal of these procedures is often to restore functionality, while also trying to preserve the integrity and basic look of the hand. Whether you are experiencing numbness, arthritis, or just looking for more information, this guide is for you.

In this blog, we will discuss issues related to different procedures starting with the two most common below.

Carpal Tunnel Release

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a very common problem in patients of all ages. CTS involves numbness and tingling in the median nerve in the wrist which involves the thumb, index, middle and half of the ring finger. The numbness can often be felt in the middle of the night with the sensation that your hand is asleep, or can occur when gripping things for a long period of time. Physical exam findings are very accurate at diagnosing the condition. Conservative management involves splinting the wrist at night for a month or two, but most patients will end up needing a carpal tunnel release (CTR) to eliminate the problem. The most common technique today is a mini-open CTR or an endoscopic CTR. Both use very small incisions and often take around 5 minutes to complete.

Trigger Finger Release

Trigger finger (TF) is when any finger simply locks in the fully bent down position- often the finger is locked when one wakes up in the morning. It can be painful to unsnap the finger, except for in the very beginning. The condition is very common in diabetics but can happen to anyone. Sometimes, more than one finger can be triggering simultaneously. Steroid injections, frequently only required once but occasionally needed 2-3 times, completed during the office visit will frequently resolve the problem. If the injections don’t work, the next step is undergoing surgery. The incision is small and only takes about 5 minutes. Following the surgery, the patient can usually move the affected fingers right away.


Dr. Arnold Peter Weiss is the R. Scot Sellers Scholar of Hand Surgery; Chief of Hand Surgery; Vice Chairman & Professor, Brown University.