Hand Surgery is a very specialized discipline that draws together practicing surgeons from both Orthopaedic Surgery and Plastic Surgery. In the USA at least 80% of surgeons practicing hand surgery are Orthopaedic Surgeons while in Canada Hand Surgery has traditionally been a subspecialty of Plastic Surgery.
The practice of Hand Surgery may vary significantly from one surgeon to another and may involve emergency management of injuries of the bones or joints of the hand or the wrist, as well as injuries to tendons, nerves, and arteries. Much of this work done by hand surgeons require the use of magnification lenses and sometimes high powered microscopes for procedures involving the suturing of small nerves, arteries, or veins (microsurgery).
There are many non-emergency medical conditions affecting the hands that also may require surgical or nonsurgical management by a surgeon specializing in hands or wrists. These include arthritis, tendon inflammation, loss of mobility of the tendons or joints, loss of integrity of bones or ligaments, or compression of nerves. Most surgical procedures on the hand and wrist require a high level of finesse to execute safely and properly.
Hand surgeons maintain a close relationship with their hand therapist as hand therapy is more integral to the successful outcome of surgical procedures on the hand and wrist than is physio or occupational therapy in other musculoskeletal surgical specialties.