The use of hands are a necessary function in the quality of life. And when there is a loss of function, or pain because of arthritis, fractures or other issues many people suffer needlessly according to hand surgeon Alejandro Badía, who recently conducted a seminar with local physicians on the latest treatments for hand and shoulder problems at Chrissie Tomlinson Hospital in association with Kendall Regional Medical Center.
“There are no hand surgeons in the Caribbean and when people have problems with the upper hand – they don’t know where to turn,” said Dr Badía.
He explained that one example is carpel tunnel syndrome. It is a common myth that working on computers causes carpel tunnel syndrome, because workers have lined pain in their hands with repetitive activities such as typing or assembly line work. It is actually more common among middle aged women who experience changes in oestrogen levels.
“There is a metabolic change in the body and the nerves get pinched in the wrist and that is when you get carpel tunnel syndrome,” added Dr Badía.
“Because of advances in technology – it has become very easy to treat. I use a minimally invasive technique called endoscopic release, which uses tiny incisions to insert a tiny camera inside the hand and the surgery only takes three to four minutes.”
He explained the tiny holes made by the endoscope also have less scarring then traditional surgery.
Another common problem is Rheumatoid arthritis. Dr Badía stated this is an inflammatory condition, which can result in deformed and distorted joints and loss of hand functionality. But there is hope even for patients who suffer severe Rheumatoid arthritis, using arthroscopic surgery to rebuild the joints.
Other problems can result from old fractures perhaps after car accidents, that were not properly taken care of because there was not a proper trauma centre nearby.
Other procedures available from a hand and upper extremity surgeon are restoring amputated fingers, tennis elbow, rotator cuff tears and frozen shoulder.
Dr Badía said that hand and upper extremity medicine is so specialised that often general and family doctors are not even aware of the techniques available to help their patients. Consequently, more public awareness and education is important among the medical community.
“If people don’t go to the right specialist they will not know what is available,” he said.
According to Dr Badía, there are 1800 members in the Society for Hand Surgeons with five located in Florida.