There are a number of things to think about when selecting a wrist doctor. A wrist doctor is a specialist who has received special training in treating the hand and wrist, and who focuses exclusively on this area of the body. This specialization means that patients receive the best and most up to date care for hand and wrist injuries. Whether one is a professional athlete who needs to get back into action or an office worker struggling with carpal tunnel, a wrist doctor can provide the highest level of care.
Wrist doctors can come from a background in orthopedics, plastic surgery, or general surgery. They complete the training for their area of surgical specialty, and then complete a fellowship in hand and wrist surgery. While a wrist doctor will not necessarily always recommend surgery if less invasive treatments are available, many patients find their way to a wrist doctor when they are in need of surgery, and thus a consult usually ends in a plan to perform surgery.
When a patient is referred to a wrist doctor, it is a good idea to get a listing of physicians who specialize in hand and wrist surgery in the area, preferably through a professional organization. Professional organizations provide contact information for their members by request, and will also provide people with information about the requirements for membership so that prospective patients are familiar with the standard their doctors are being held to.
Another source of information is a practicing physician who can offer recommendations. For example, if an orthopedic surgeon tells a patient that an issue is complex and needs the attention of a wrist specialist, the patient could ask for recommendations. Doctor ratings services can be another option.
With a list of surgeons in hand, patients can do some research to see how long they have been practicing. Surgeons may also have published articles which provide information about the kinds of surgeries they are most interested in, which can influence a patient's choice. Patients should also plan to meet with several wrist doctors to interview them. Patients should ask what kind of success rates the surgeon has, how the surgeon plans to approach the surgery, whether or not alternatives are available, and what the risks of the surgery are. A good wrist doctor will be happy to answer questions and take as much time with the patient as needed for the patient to feel comfortable.