What does a Hand Surgeon do?

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  • Written By: Harriette Halepis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 21 November 2019
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A hand surgeon is a trained medical surgeon that acts to treat and heal hand injuries. Interestingly, hand surgery is a medical discipline that grew out of necessity during World War II. As many soldiers during World War II often sustained hand-related injuries, military surgeons observed the need for exclusive hand-based medical training.

Until the field of hand surgery was created, simple hand wounds hardly every healed properly due to a lack of proper care. Following the creation of hand surgery, those that were wounded in the hand area were effectively attended to by hand surgeons. Today, hand surgery is a sub-branch of surgery, and most hand surgeons are formally trained as general surgeons, plastic surgeons, or orthopedic surgeons.

Hand surgeons must obtain proper medical schooling in order to practice surgery. In addition, most hand surgeons must work for one year within the hand field. In the United States, this one year fellowship is followed by a Certificate of Added Qualifications in Surgery of the Hand exam. Upon successful completion of this examination, surgeons are then permitted to practice privately or publicly.


The title of a hand surgeon is somewhat misleading, since these surgeons often work with the fingers, wrist, and forearm as well as the hand. In addition, some surgeons also examine the elbow, shoulder, and arm. Nearly any infection, wound, or deterioration of the hand is attended to by a hand surgeon. Hand surgeons are the primary care providers for any arm or hand related injury.

Hand surgeons generally try to heal a patient without resorting to surgery. When other forms of medical attention do not heal a hand wound, then surgical methods may be applied. Still, it is within the best interest of a patient and a surgeon to avoid complex hand surgery. A hand surgeon may be employed by hospitals, clinics, private homes, or he or she may build a private practice.

Hand surgery is not a popular surgical field, though the demand for hand surgeons is rather high. Hand surgeon positions can be found by scouring job sites, or by speaking with hospital directors. The best way for a recent medical graduate to obtain a hand surgeon position is to begin by working within a related medical environment.

Often, hand surgery internships will lead to a secured position within the field of hand surgery. In fact, the position of a hand surgeon is easier to acquire if a candidate has extensive work experience.


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Post 2

A neighbor kid who played high school football broke a couple of bones in his hand and also fractured some ligaments, I think. Anyway, he had to have a hand surgeon fix some issues before he could be fitted with a cast for the broken bones.

Needless to say, he was out for the season and could hardly manage a pen in class. Naturally, it was his dominant hand that was injured. But he said he retained complete use of his hand, so he figured the surgeon did his job. I'd say so, certainly, since his hand landed underneath him at an odd angle, and then someone ran across it with cleats!

Post 1

I work for a newspaper and when we still printed the paper here, our pressroom foreman got his hand caught against an idle roller in the press. Good thing it wasn't an impression roller.

Anyway, his hand was really torn up and he had to have, I think, three surgeries on it. He had this scary looking metal cage looking thing on it for about six weeks.

He said he had one of the best hand surgeons anywhere, and I believe him, because he said with therapy, he was able to retain 95 percent use of the hand. That's amazing, considering what he said his hand looked like when they got it out of the press...

A good hand surgeon can save someone's livelihood. The surgeon who worked on my friend's hand surely did!

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