I remember the day I hurt my pinkie.
Like it was yesterday.
I thought I was a hero. I had dived for the softball, and it had ended up smashing into my little finger. At first, I thought it wasn’t much. Until it started swelling.
And until I stopped being able to bend it. Even then, I thought it was okay for me to just go to the Chinese physician.
The day I got my pinkie injured
He massaged it, sprayed some foul-smelling oil, and still it didn’t work.
I ended up taking myself to the hospital to get it X-rayed and treated.
That day was the first day I realised how much my hands mattered, and the first day I realised how much the doctors helped.
But finding a good doctor isn’t all that simple.
Compared to other traumas, hand injuries are especially difficult to deal with for two reasons: because hands have especially complex mechanisms and also because they’re used in a lot of everyday situations.
Fortunately for athletes who have sustained hand injuries, orthopaedists have developed a remarkable array of interventions that can help them get back to form. Best of all, if an athlete needs a hand specialist, Singapore is home to several experts who specialise in sports injuries.
How to find the best hand specialist (for you)
Hands are remarkably complex body parts that most of us take for granted.
They are put at exceptional risk in many kinds of sporting activities and, because of their fragility and complexity, it takes a qualified orthopaedist to accurately diagnose and successfully treat a hand injury.
Find someone qualified
You want to make sure that your orthopedist is someone qualified.
There are many things they specialise in, such as:
- Hand surgery. Sports orthopedists may have to perform hand surgery in some instances, often for complex bone fractures and overuse injuries like tendinitis. These surgeries are designed to aid recovery, while also being sensitive to the sports performance needs of their patients.
- Medications. Hand specialists often need to employ a different medication strategy for athletes than they would for other people. For instance, some athletes may have different pain thresholds from other people. This necessitates a different approach to pain management. Similarly, inflammation may also have to be managed differently so that athletes do not miss out on valuable training time.
- Setting and Immobilisation. Hand fractures and dislocations are extremely common in sports. If they’re not set and immobilised in a way that is sensitive to an athlete’s needs, they may risk impairing their performance potential even if they recover hand function. A sports-focussed hand specialist will have a better understanding of how to address athletes’ long-term recovery needs.
- Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation. A sports-focussed hand specialist will be able to provide recommendations that minimise negative impacts on an athlete’s training schedule. They may also spot subtle conditions that affect performance and provide advice that allows the athlete to eventually overcome specific weakness.
What Specialised Techniques Do Hand Specialists Use?
Hand specialists in Singapore may perform different kinds of interventions to help athletes recover from their injuries.
Broadly speaking, hand specialists with a focus on sports injuries use the same kinds of interventions that other orthopedists use, but with an approach tailored to the performance needs of their patients.
Hand specialists may use such techniques as:
- Minimally Invasive Surgery. Hand specialists typically use laparoscopy (keyhole surgery) and other minimally invasive surgical techniques to repair hand injuries. These techniques aim to minimise trauma and promote faster recovery. Several hand specialists in Singapore also offer reconstructive microsurgery, as well as supermicrosurgery for extremely small blood vessels and nerve bundles typically found in the hands.
- Custom Orthotics. Athletes with hand fractures and dislocations may be fitted for special splints, braces, or other customised orthotics to aid recovery. These medical devices are not necessarily off-the-shelf and may have to be specifically designed for each athlete’s specific recovery needs.
- Cartilage Restoration. Cartilage injuries in the hand may require highly complicated transplants and other techniques to restore function. Hand specialists who focus on sports medicine will perform these techniques in ways that are sensitive to an athlete’s long-term training and performance goals.
- Therapy. Hand therapy is often overlooked in regular hand injuries but it’s an essential for ensuring that injured athletes can get back to their best form. Hand specialists work closely with athletes to help very specific aspects of their recovery, ensuring not just full functionality but also peak strength and mobility.
Why Choose a Sports-Focussed Hand Specialist
With Singaporeans taking up sports in record numbers, sports-related hand injuries have started to become more commonplace.
Though non-specialised orthopedists will do an excellent job at restoring hand functionality, they may not have sufficient knowledge in the many nuances of sports-related movements.
With that in mind, athletes who sustain hand injuries should look up the appropriate specialists if they want the best possible health and performance outcomes.