Frequently Asked Questions About Hand and Wrist Care

At Henry Ford Health System, we are committed to giving you the best orthopedic care. We believe that educating and informing our patients empowers them to heal and live their best lives. Whether you have carpal tunnel syndrome, trigger finger or arthritis, our hand doctors are here to help.

This list of answers to frequently asked questions is a good place to begin when you want to learn about hand and wrist treatment at Henry Ford.

How can I tell if my hand or wrist pain is due to my work?

It can be difficult to tell if your injury is caused by work if there wasn't a specific traumatic incident. Many conditions may be work-related even if they aren't specifically caused by work. If activities you perform at work worsen a condition, it is considered a work-related issue.

Why does my hand pain wake me up at night?

Very few hand conditions cause nighttime pain. Two that do are carpal tunnel syndrome and infection. Pain from hand infections can occur if an infection worsens. Carpal tunnel syndrome pain happens at night because blood pressure lowers during sleep and results in less oxygen to the affected hand.

What kind of brace should I wear?

Most wrist conditions that don't involve the thumb can be eased with a cock-up wrist brace. Any wrist or forearm condition that is made worse by thumb motion can be alleviated with a thumb spica brace. Most braces are meant to be restrictive (there will be things that are hard to do with the brace on). This restriction is necessary for healing. Your doctor will prescribe a brace that’s right for your condition.

I sometimes have tingling in my hand, but it goes away. Should I see a doctor?

Yes. It’s important to properly diagnose any hand or wrist pain to avoid long-term damage and find relief.

What does carpal tunnel syndrome feel like?

Carpal tunnel can cause numbness or tingling throughout the hand, through the thumb to the ring finger. Many patients experience carpal tunnel symptoms more frequently at night.

What’s the difference between carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis?

Carpal tunnel syndrome affects the nerves, while tendonitis affects tendons (tissue that connects muscle to bone). Carpal tunnel syndrome usually causes numbness or tingling, while tendonitis causes swelling.

Can carpal tunnel syndrome go away on its own? Will I need surgery?

Symptoms of carpal tunnel may subside with rest and proper treatment. However, carpal tunnel syndrome can continue to progress, and you may not know it. Your hand doctor can determine the extent of the issue and determine which treatment is most appropriate. If surgery is best, we offer less-invasive techniques to get you moving again quickly.

I think I may have osteoarthritis. Do you treat that?

Yes. Our orthopedic doctors specialize in treating osteoarthritis in the hands and wrists. Our Bone Health and Fracture Prevention Clinic provides specialized care for arthritis and other bone conditions.

What technologies are used to diagnose hand and wrist conditions?

Our hand surgeons use a wide range of diagnostic techniques. These may include imaging, but we also do a physical exam. A physical exam reveals important insights about your condition that may not be pinpointed via imaging.

What’s the advantage to having hand surgery while I’m awake?

Wide-awake hand or wrist surgery has several benefits including better outcomes, reduced pain and fewer presurgical requirements. Your hand surgeon will recommend this option if it’s appropriate.

Are physical or occupational therapy used for hands and wrists?

You may need some hand therapy to improve range of motion and strengthen your hand after an injury or surgery. Our team can refer you to therapy providers in the Henry Ford network or make a referral outside of our network.

What kinds of doctors and medical professionals do you have on staff?

Many of our hospitals have hand surgeons and nurses who specialize in hand and wrist care on staff. Our locations that provide orthopedic rehabilitation include physical and occupational therapists. Learn more about our team.

Which hospitals and clinics offer orthopedic care? What’s the advantage of being treated at a Level 1 trauma center?

We offer leading orthopedic care at locations throughout the Henry Ford Health System. As a Level I trauma center, Henry Ford Hospital is equipped to handle the most complex traumas. These accidents often require expertise from doctors in multiple fields who are used to working together to handle complicated cases.

Will I be seen quicker at your walk-in clinic compared to the ER?

Our walk-in clinic offers prompt service for orthopedic emergencies. We also treat swollen or painful joints, pulled muscles and ligaments, and sports-related injuries.

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