You have a hand injury – and maybe a hand fracture – and you’re wondering what to expect from your visit to the emergency department, orthopaedic office or urgent care. Dr. Okechukwu Nwoko, a hand and wrist specialist with Wake Orthopaedics, talked us through what physicians consider when determining the treatment plan for an orthopaedic hand injury. According to Dr. Nwoko, considerations for treatment of hand injuries are based on various factors. These factors include:
- The severity of the injury
- The pattern and level of the fracture
- Ligaments involved in the injury
- How much motion can be allowed without making the injury worse – which is especially important when discussing time to return to work or sports
Options for limiting motion, which is often needed to ensure proper healing, include straps, splints, or casts:
Straps allow you the most motion while at the same time giving some limitation from side-to-side, which is especially important for ligament injuries and partially healed fractures. This limited movement still allows the wearer to have use of their hands to do things like write or type.
When using splints, the material should not be circumferential and should be easily removable to allow room for swelling, access for emergencies and for hygiene purposes. Splints are more restrictive than the straps, but are not as rigid as a cast.
A cast is usually made from a fiberglass material that is very rigid. Casts offer the most protection and limited use of the involved area, which is especially important in more severe injuries that require complete immobilization to heal.
Other different materials can be used to achieve the same results, but because hands are needed to complete so many daily tasks, physicians try to choose solutions that achieve adequate protection of the injury site and also offer the greatest motion possible.
Dr. Okechukwu Nwoko, is a hand and wrist specialist with Wake Orthopaedics. With additional questions about hand and wrist injuries, visit www.wakeortho.com or call 919-232-5020 to make an appointment with a specialists.