Operative and Nonoperative Therapies for Your Hand Injury

Some hand injuries happen in a moment. A sports accident or the attempt to catch yourself as you fall can leave you with a fracture. In other cases, a hand injury can develop more slowly. Overuse or arthritis can cause joint pain and stiffness that builds over time. 

Kristopher Downing, MD, and Daniel Brereton, DO, specialize in hand injuries at Upper Extremity Specialists, part of Synergy Orthopedic Specialists Medical Group. We provide a range of nonoperative and operative therapies for people of all ages, so they can find relief and get back to their lives.

Conservative care for hand injuries

First, your provider performs a comprehensive physical exam, which may include X-rays or other medical imaging to evaluate the extent of your injury. There are lots of nonoperative treatment options for hand injuries, and we typically start by recommending a combination of these as a first line of treatment. 

RICE method

Employing the RICE method (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) is effective for many types of orthopedic injuries. If you suffer a hand injury, practicing the RICE method even before you go to the doctor may help relieve pain and keep the injury from getting worse.

Rest your hand by avoiding activities that require gripping, lifting, or manipulation. Apply an ice pack to your hand for 20 minutes at a time, several times a day. Our team can show you how to apply a compression bandage to reduce swelling without compromising your circulation. If your injury is mild to moderate, we may recommend rest and compression for a few weeks as your hand heals.


Bracing involves wearing a splint or wrap on your hand to immobilize it and prevent further injury. Bracing your hand can help keep the bones, muscles, and tendons in proper alignment, which can reduce pain after an injury.

Our team can demonstrate the right way to wrap your hand or suggest hand and wrist braces to best suit your needs. If you choose bracing, be sure to wear the brace only as long as it’s needed. Wearing a brace for too long can contribute to muscle weakness and more pain.

Physical therapy

Physical therapy plays a major part in most orthopedic treatment plans for hand injuries. Whether you’re trying nonoperative treatment or you need operative care to repair the injury, physical therapy can build strength and promote healing in your hand.

Your physical therapist can guide you through targeted stretches and exercises designed for your needs. These exercises can improve flexibility and strength in your hand, and participating in physical therapy can help reduce your risk of future injury.

Anti-inflammatory injections

Inflammation is your body’s natural response to injury, but it can contribute to pain, swelling, and stiffness. Anti-inflammatory injections can reduce swelling and pain.

Our team may prescribe anti-inflammatory medication alongside other treatments. Injections can temporarily reduce pain so you can focus on physical therapy and recovery.

Surgery for hand injuries

If you’ve suffered a traumatic hand injury or conservative treatments haven’t made a difference for your pain, it might be time to consider surgery. Your hands contain some of the most delicate structures in your body, so it’s important to find a surgeon who specializes in hand procedures.

Our team at Upper Extremity Specialists has extensive experience in hand surgery. During his school years, Dr. Downing completed a fellowship with a focus in hand surgery. Today, he has more than 10 years of practical experience using the latest innovations in orthopedic surgery.

Dr. Downing performs surgery to repair damaged tendons, muscles, and other soft tissues in the hand and wrist. If you have a fracture or other type of bone damage, he can reset bones and place metal pins to add stability. 

If you’re faced with a hand injury, put your trust in the capable hands of our team at Upper Extremity Specialists. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone today.

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