Hand Surgery

This information is useful for children and adults
Close up of a man zipping his jacket.
Why Yale Medicine?
  • We have one of the most comprehensive programs in the region for diagnosis, evaluation and treatment of both simple and complex hand conditions.
  • Our specialists in orthopaedics and plastic surgery use the most specialized techniques for diagnosis and treatment.
  • We address problems developed in the workplace, including pain and injury related to repetitive tasks.

Many essential tasks call for use of your hands—signing a check, zipping your coat, managing a fork or spoon. An injury or condition that affects one or both of your hands can turn these routine tasks into big challenges. Fortunately, doctors have come a long way in their approaches to treating such conditions and in their ability to improve patients’ lives.

“For hand surgeons, it’s about function,” says Carrie Swigart, MD, a Yale Medicine hand surgeon and associate professor of orthopaedics and rehabilitation at Yale School of Medicine. Yale Medicine surgeons have extensive expertise treating challenging conditions that impair peoples’ ability to use their hands. Specialized surgical procedures can often bring about a dramatic improvement.

A variety of conditions can prevent the hand from functioning properly, including degenerative conditions, such as arthritis, nerve compression syndromes and injuries. Some of these will require surgery, while others may improve with nonsurgical treatments.

Sometimes an event such as a fall, a sports accident or a workplace accident will result in injury to bone, muscle, tendon or ligament. The hand surgeons at Yale Medicine evaluate and treat such injuries with advanced and innovative techniques. Our team has access to advanced diagnostic tools including a dedicated musculoskeletal radiology service

Interestingly, however, Dr. Swigart says the majority of her patients do not remember being injured. “I commonly see people who have no history of an injury that they can remember,” Dr. Swigart says. “But their hand hurts when they do certain things, or it doesn’t move as well as it used to. Sometimes patients come in and say they’ve had a particular problem for years. Other patients say they noticed a problem three days ago.”

Possible diagnoses include: