Hand injuries are one of the most common types of workplace injuries, affecting workers across a wide range of industries. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were approximately 286,810 nonfatal occupational injuries to the hands and wrists in 2019 alone. These injuries can result in significant pain, disability, and lost work time, with an estimated cost of $7.8 billion in workers’ compensation claims each year. In addition, hand injuries can have a long-term impact on a worker’s ability to perform their job and earn a living. The National Safety Council (NSC) reports that the average hand injury claim can result in 6 days away from work, and up to 70% of workers who experience hand injuries will not return to work within a year.
Common causes of hand injuries at work include machinery accidents, falls, cuts and lacerations, and overexertion injuries. To prevent these injuries, it is important for employers to implement proper safety measures, provide appropriate personal protective equipment, and ensure that workers are properly trained to use machinery and equipment safely.
Here a few examples of the types of hand surgeries that may be used to treat workplace injuries. The specific type of surgery used will depend on the nature and severity of the injury, as well as the individual needs and circumstances of the patient. It is important to work closely with a qualified healthcare provider to determine the best course of treatment.
- Tendon repair surgery: Typically performed under local or regional anesthesia, meaning that the patient is awake but the hand and arm are numbed. During the procedure, the surgeon makes a small incision in the hand to access the damaged tendon. They may use a special tool called a retractor to hold the incision open and provide better visibility. Once the damaged tendon is identified, the surgeon will use specialized instruments to suture the ends of the tendon back together or reattach the tendon to the bone. After the surgery, the hand may be immobilized with a splint or cast to allow the tendon to heal.
- Nerve repair surgery: The surgeon will make an incision in the hand to access the damaged nerve and may use a microscope to magnify the area for better visibility. The damaged part of the nerve is then removed and the healthy ends are reconnected using tiny sutures. In some cases, a nerve graft may be necessary to bridge the gap between the two healthy ends of the nerve. After the surgery, the hand may be immobilized to protect the nerve while it heals.
- Fracture repair surgery: During the procedure, the surgeon will make an incision near the fracture and use specialized instruments to realign the broken bones. Once the bones are in the correct position, the surgeon may use pins, screws, or plates to hold the bones together while they heal. After the surgery, the hand may be immobilized with a splint or cast to allow the bones to heal.
- Joint replacement surgery: Joint replacement surgery is typically done under general anesthesia. During the procedure, the surgeon will make an incision near the damaged joint and remove the damaged joint surfaces. They will then replace the damaged joint with an artificial joint made of metal, plastic, or ceramic components. The new joint may be cemented in place or may be designed to allow bone to grow into the joint for added stability. After the surgery, the hand may be immobilized with a splint or cast while the joint heals.
Skin graft surgery: A surgeon will remove healthy skin from another part of the body, such as the thigh or abdomen, and transplant it to the damaged area of the hand. The transplanted skin is carefully matched to the size and shape of the damaged area to ensure a good fit. After the surgery, the transplanted skin is secured in place with stitches or staples and the hand may be immobilized with a splint or cast to allow the skin to heal.
In addition to the surgeries mentioned in the previous answer, there are several other types of hand surgeries that may be used to treat workplace injuries. Here are a few examples:
- Carpal tunnel release surgery: Carpal tunnel release surgery is used to treat carpal tunnel syndrome, which is a common workplace injury caused by repetitive motion or pressure on the median nerve in the wrist. During the surgery, the surgeon will make a small incision in the wrist and cut the ligament that is compressing the median nerve. This helps to relieve the pressure on the nerve and reduce symptoms such as pain, numbness, and tingling in the hand.
- Dupuytren’s contracture surgery: Dupuytren’s contracture is a condition where the connective tissue in the hand becomes thickened and contracted, causing the fingers to curl inward. This condition can make it difficult to perform tasks such as gripping or holding objects. Surgery for Dupuytren’s contracture involves removing the thickened tissue and releasing the contracted fingers. This may be done using a variety of techniques, such as needle aponeurotomy, fasciectomy, or fasciotomy.
- Arthroscopic surgery: Arthroscopic surgery is a minimally invasive technique that can be used to diagnose and treat a variety of hand injuries, such as ligament tears, cartilage damage, or joint inflammation. During the procedure, the surgeon will make a small incision in the hand and insert a tiny camera called an arthroscope. This allows them to see inside the hand and guide specialized instruments to repair the damaged tissue.
- Tendon transfer surgery: Tendon transfer surgery is used to restore hand function in cases where a muscle or tendon is damaged or paralyzed. During the procedure, the surgeon will detach a healthy tendon from one part of the body and reattach it to a different part of the hand. This allows the healthy tendon to take over the function of the damaged or paralyzed tendon.
- Amputation surgery: In some cases, severe hand injuries may require amputation of part or all of the hand. During the surgery, the surgeon will remove the damaged tissue and shape the remaining tissue to form a functional stump. They may also perform a skin graft or flap procedure to cover the stump and create a more natural appearance.
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