The Remarkable Hand

What makes humans so “human”? While there are certainly many factors – spiritual, emotional, physical – that make us human, the human hand is a unique appendage that opened up amazing possibilities in our becoming human.

From our opposable thumbs to the amazing sensory receptiveness of our fingertips, the human hand is ideally sculpted for exploration and manipulation of this incredibly complex world. A study at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden in 2013 determined that the human finger can find an irregularity as small as 13 nanometers, which is less than 1/1000th the thickness of a human hair. With sensory tools like that at our disposal, it’s not surprising we humans have done as well as we have!

Let’s spend a minute and look at the basic set-up of the hand.

The eight bones of the wrist are called the carpal bones. The carpal tunnel is the narrow passage through which passes all of the blood and nerve supply for the hand. You’ve probably heard of carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when, for a variety of reasons, that passageway no longer allows for friction-free passage of the tendons, nerves and blood supply to the hand, causing pain and dysfunction.

The five long bones that stretch from your wrist to the base of your fingers are called metacarpals, and the individual bones of your fingers are called the phalanges (phalanx is singular). The muscles and tendons that move your hands and fingers are incredibly sensitive, allowing us to pick up tiny objects, while they are strong enough to lift frying pans and carry babies!

It’s amazing all that we can do with our hands! However, when we begin having pain or discomfort in our hands, it can be difficult to function in the day-to-day. If you are experiencing pain in your hands or wrists, please contact us to set up an evaluation.

Ouch! What’s going on with my elbow?

You are used to doing everything you want to do. Lately, though, just picking up a gallon of milk with your right hand hurts so much it almost makes you cry. You made an appointment with your primary care provider, who thinks you are developing osteoarthritis in that elbow. She referred you to us, the Missouri Orthopedics & Advanced Sports Medicine Center.

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After hearing your story, reading your history and reviewing some plain x-rays your PCP had obtained, one of the tools our board-certified surgeons may use to both diagnose and treat your elbow pain and dysfunction is elbow arthroscopy.

What is Elbow Arthroscopy?

The elbow, like all the joints of the human body, is a truly amazing anatomical structure. Through small spaces between the bones pass all of the nerves and blood supply for your hand. In addition to the pain symptoms you are currently experiencing, problems in the elbow can cause pain, numbness and weakness to everything past the elbow – your forearm and hand. Compromised blood flow from the elbow to the hand can cause even more serious symptoms.

Arthroscopy is ideally suited to examine the elbow. Instead of a large, open surgical procedure, one or more tiny incisions are made in the elbow to pass a small fiber-optic camera and various small instruments into the elbow space to both diagnose and potentially treat your pain.

While the x-rays your PCP ordered rule out obvious fractures, elbow arthroscopy can also treat arthritis, loose bodies in the elbow, stiffness, tennis elbow and many other conditions of the elbow.

Because arthroscopy does not use large incisions, less soft tissue has to heal, leading to less post-operative pain and speedier recovery times.

To set up an appointment, please contact us. There’s no need to put up with the pain and limitations! We look forward to hearing from you soon.