Orthopedic elbow and hand specialists in Aurora

The Medical Center of Aurora’s (TMCA) collaborative orthopedic care team, including surgeons, nurses and rehabilitation specialists, creates a full-service treatment plan for your specific hand, wrist and elbow needs.

To schedule an appointment with a hand surgeon or to inquire about elbow or hand surgery, please call (303) 873-0630.

TMCA has state-of-the-art, newly renovated surgical suites offer the most advanced orthopedic surgical technology for elbow injury treatment and recovery. Our high-quality care, low infection rate and high percentage of nurse certification means you get better care and faster recovery rates than at other hospitals or surgical centers in the area.

As a partner of the Own The Bone network, we work to recognize early signs of osteoporosis, prevent and treat injuries associated with osteoporosis.

Because our hands and fingers have a variety of bones, nerves and muscles working together in a small space, hand surgeons must treat your hands with great care to relieve pain in your hand and restore function to your hand and fingers.

Hand injuries and treatments

Our hands are susceptible to a variety of injuries from repetitive use, aging and disease and sports-related injuries activities. During everyday activities, severe hand injuries can be caused from common activities like receiving a deep cut while preparing a meal, an animal bite from a neighbor’s pet or blunt trauma when moving furniture.

Because our hands and fingers have a variety of bones, nerves and muscles working together in a small space, hand surgeons must treat your hands with great care to relieve pain in your hand and restore function to your hand and fingers.

Arthritis of the hand or thumb

Arthritis in the hand causes joint inflammation, but also causes pain, stiffness and swelling in the joints. Arthritis of the hand and thumb can be a debilitating condition that affects a patient’s ability to handle objects, operate machinery and live their day-to-day life.

Hand surgeons treat arthritis of the hand and thumb with a focus on relieving pain, maintaining the greatest possible mobility and function, slowing disease progression and maintaining or improving quality of life. When possible, hand surgeons strive to treat arthritis of the hand through medications, physical therapy and lifestyle changes.

If you have debilitating rheumatoid arthritis, you may need surgery. Rheumatoid arthritis surgery is done onsite at TMCA in newly renovated operating rooms.

Carpal tunnel syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a nerve disorder. Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include pain or numbness in your thumb and fingers, hand stiffness, cramping, weakness or clumsiness in the hand and pain that moves up the arm.

Prior to recommending carpal tunnel surgery, initial treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome will include altered use, rest and wrist stabilizing devices. Physical therapy may be helpful, as well as over-the-counter or prescription medications to help with pain management. If symptoms are severe, or continue after other treatments are exhausted, a hand surgeon may recommend carpal tunnel surgery to relieve symptoms.

Dupuytren’s syndrome

Dupuytren’s syndrome, also called Dupuytren’s contracture, is a hand deformity that usually develops over many years as knots of tissue form under the skin of the fingers. The condition eventually prevents the affected fingers from straightening completely, which can interfere with daily activities.

Doctors don’t know what causes Dupuytren’s syndrome. It mainly affects the ring finger and pinky and occurs most often in older men. The younger a person is first diagnosed with Dupuytren’s syndrome, the more severe the condition tends to become.

If the disease progresses slowly, causes no pain and has little impact on the ability to use the hands, treatment may not be necessary. If the condition is affecting daily activities or causing pain, a hand surgeon may recommend surgery to remove the affected tissue in the hands. The goal of treatment is to improve function.

De Quervain’s tenosynovitis

De Quervain’s tenosynovitis is an irritation of tendons that run from the wrist to the thumb. These tendons pass through a tunnel-like tissue, called a sheath, at the wrist. The tunnel area can cause additional pressure and irritation on thickened or swollen tendons, making normal movements painful.

Treatment for De Quervain’s tenosynovitis aims to relieve pain and help you regain full function of the wrist. Supportive care may include restricting activities of the thumb and wrist, ice therapy to help relieve swelling, a thumb splint to support the wrist and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to reduce inflammation and decrease pain.

If supportive care is not helpful, then cortisone injections may be recommended to reduce swelling. If the cortisone injects are not helpful, a hand surgeon may perform surgery to open the tunnel the tendon is passing through.

Ganglion cyst of the wrist and hand

A ganglion cyst is a fluid-filled sac. It is usually attached to the membrane that surrounds a tendon or a joint lining. Ganglion cysts usually appear on the back of the wrist. They may also be on the underside of the wrist, hand and fingers.

Ganglion cysts may go away without treatment. If they do not go away, but they are not causing any pain, no treatment is necessary. If the ganglion cyst is causing pain, treatment may include putting a needle into the cyst to drain the fluid, injecting a corticosteroid solution into the cyst or surgically removing the cyst.

Finger dislocation

A finger fracture is a break in a bone in one of the fingers. Proper treatment for a finger fracture is necessary to prevent long-term complications or problems with the finger, such as permanent finger immobility or misalignment.

A hand surgeon will work to put the bones of the finger back in place, either through hand surgery or nonsurgical means. During the healing process, the finger will need to be stabilized either with tape, a splint or a cast. Pain relief medications and physical therapy may also be needed during recovery.

Finger fracture

A finger fracture is a break in a bone in one of the fingers. Proper treatment for a finger fracture is necessary to prevent long-term complications or problems with the finger, such as permanent finger immobility or misalignment.

A hand surgeon will work to put the bones of the finger back in place, through hand surgery or nonsurgical means. During the healing process, the finger will need to be stabilized with tape, a splint or a cast. Pain relieving medications and physical therapy may also be needed during recovery.

Finger sprain

A finger sprain is the stretching or tearing of ligaments that support the small joints of the finger. Symptoms of a finger sprain include pain and tenderness in the finger, pain when moving the finger joint and swelling of the finger joint.

A finger sprain can be treated through rest, ice, compression, splinting, taping, pain relief and anti-inflammatory medications. In rare cases, surgery may be required if the ligament is torn completely.

Flexor tendon injury

A flexor tendon injury is damage to the tendons running all the way up to the fingertips or the tendons on the palm of your hand, which allow you to curl your fingers. The most common cause of the flexor tendon injury is a deep cut to the palm or finger. When these tendons are damaged you can lose your ability to bend your finger(s).

Most patients with this type of injury require hand surgery to regain motion. To fix this injury, hand surgeons may sew the tendon back together or sew the tendon back to the muscle. A splint may be worn after surgery to protect the hand. A physical therapist can help by providing exercises to regain finger strength and increase range of motion post-surgery.

Mallet finger

Mallet finger is sometimes referred to as “baseball finger” and happens when the extensor tendon to the distal joint of the finger is stretched or torn when something forces it past its normal range of motion. This injury sometimes includes a small fracture of the finger.

Treatment for mallet finger includes ice, pain medication, a splint and finger exercises to strengthen the finger after the splint is removed. If there is a total tear of the extensor tendon, hand surgery may be required to repair the injury. Hand surgery may also be needed if there is a fracture extending into the joint where the tendon has pulled a piece of bone tissue. An untreated mallet finger can lead to a permanent deformity.

Trigger finger

Trigger finger is a condition in which one of your fingers gets stuck in a bent position. It may bend or straighten with a snap. Symptoms of trigger finger include finger or thumb stiffness, pain and swelling. Trigger finger is more common in women. Individuals at higher risk for developing trigger finger have jobs or hobbies requiring a repetitive gripping action.

It is important to see a doctor immediately if the trigger finger becomes red or inflamed—this means an infection has developed. Generally, orthopedic specialists treat trigger finger by giving the tendons rest with a brace or splint. Medications, including corticosteroid injections and NSAIDs may be prescribed to decrease inflammation, decrease pain and help relax the finger. Severe cases of trigger finger may not respond to medications. In this case, hand surgery by a specialized hand surgeon may be used to release the tendon from a locked position.

Elbow injuries and treatments

Minor elbow injuries happen regularly and do not need medical attention. An orthopedic specialist looks at significant elbow injuries, typically caused by acute trauma or repetitive elbow motion.

Athletes often incur elbow injuries based on the nature of their sport. Tennis and golf may lead to repetitive motion injuries, such as “tennis elbow.” Other sports, like mountain climbing, wrestling or football, often lead to acute elbow injuries because of the potential speed and impact. These types of sports injuries should be treated by a sports medicine specialist.

Golfer’s elbow and tennis elbow

Golfer’s elbow and tennis elbow are forms of inflammation of the elbow tendons. The difference between the two elbow conditions is where the neck is inflamed. Golfer’s elbow affects the inside of the elbow joint, while tennis elbow impacts the outside of the elbow.

Initially, golfer’s and tennis elbow are both treated with rest, ice and anti-inflammatory pain relievers. Treatment may also include an elbow brace to immobilize and stabilize the elbow. Physical therapy may be recommended to regain motion. If these non-surgical treatments are unsuccessful in relieving pain and discomfort, surgery may be necessary. Your sports medicine specialist will help get you back to normal function quickly.

Arthritis of the elbow

Arthritis of the elbow can be a serious medical condition causing significant pain and limiting motion, mobility and quality of life. Elbow arthritis can affect people differently. Some people may have mild symptoms with little progression, while others may have symptoms that significantly worsen over time, affecting and limiting elbow mobility.

The goal of arthritis treatment is to relieve pain, maintain mobility and function and improve quality of life. Treatment may include recommended lifestyle changes, medications, surgery and more.

Dislocated elbow

An elbow dislocation occurs when the bones of the elbow are pulled out of place. It often involves damage to the ligaments and sometimes damage to the bones. Elbow dislocation will make certain movements impossible and can cause severe elbow pain and difficulty bending or moving the arm.

In most cases, orthopedic surgeons specializing in elbows can manipulate the elbow back into place. This non-surgical procedure requires pain medications and muscle relaxers before and after the elbow is moved to reduce discomfort. After the elbow has been moved back into place, treatment may include immobilization with a splint or sling, exercise and rehabilitation of the elbow and over-the-counter or prescription pain medication during recovery.

In more complex elbow dislocation cases, an orthopedic surgeon may have to perform surgery to repair the ligaments, bones and nerves damaged by the elbow dislocation.

Elbow bursitis

Elbow bursitis is an inflammation of the bursa, a thin sac that lies between bone and soft tissue near the elbow. A healthy bursa allows smooth movement of soft tissue over bone. Inflammation in and around the elbow can make it painful to move the nearby joint.

Physicians treat elbow bursitis with a focus on reducing inflammation and pain. The first step is a physical exam to identify the reason for the elbow bursitis and stop the activity causing the pain. Rest and relaxation are essential to heal elbow bursitis. Your orthopedic specialist may also recommend applying ice and taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for inflammation and pain, and in some cases, a corticosteroid. Treatment often includes physical therapy to return the elbow to full function.

Elbow fracture

An elbow fracture is a break in one or more of the bones making up the elbow joint. Symptoms of an elbow fracture can include severe pain, swelling, bruising, numbness in the fingers or hand and decreased ability to move and use the arm.

Initial treatment for elbow fractures can include a cast or sling to support and protect the elbow while it heals. If the fracture has caused damage to the bone, the pieces will need to be put back in their proper place. This may require surgery. Prescription or over-the-counter medications may be given to help reduce inflammation and pain.

Recovery from an elbow fracture will require a period of rest to reduce elbow activity while the bones heal, which is often accompanied by ice and elevation to decrease swelling and discomfort. Once the elbow has healed, physical therapy and rehabilitation are often recommended to regain full strength and function of the elbow.

Elbow sprain

An elbow sprain is stretching or tearing of the ligaments stabilizing the elbow. Symptoms can include pain, swelling, limited ability to move the elbow and pain when moving the elbow.

Treatment strategies for elbow sprains will focus on reducing pain and discomfort to return you to daily activities as soon as possible. Initial care may involve rest and relaxation, avoiding certain activities which stress the elbow, ice to reduce swelling and discomfort and over-the-counter or prescription medications to decrease pain.

Your orthopedic surgeon may also recommend extra support while the elbow heals. This can include wearing a brace or sling and performing rehabilitation exercises to strengthen the elbow. In rare cases, surgery may be necessary to repair damage caused by elbow sprain.

Cubital tunnel syndrome

Cubital tunnel syndrome is a set of symptoms caused by abnormal pressure on the ulnar nerve, an area on the inside of the elbow. There are several risk factors for developing cubital tunnel syndrome, including:

  • Stress on the elbow from long periods of time with the elbow in a bent position or with pressure on the elbow
  • Injury or trauma to the elbow
  • Inflammation, bleeding or fluid build-up near the elbow joint

In most cases, cubital tunnel syndrome will go away on its own when excess pressure on the elbow is removed. However, in some cases, long-term untreated cubital tunnel syndrome can lead to permanent muscle damage in the hand.

Your orthopedic surgeon, specializing in the elbow, should treat cubital tunnel syndrome with a comprehensive exam to identify the cause of stress to the ulnar nerve, followed by recommended lifestyle alterations, physical therapy and over-the-counter medications for pain relief and muscle relaxation.

Elbow surgery may be required in more severe cases or if other treatment methods fail. The goal of elbow surgery is to relieve compression and restore the nerve function and muscle strength.

Little league elbow

Little league elbow is a common condition in children and young athletes due to overuse associated with throwing. Little league is the result of repetitive stress to the growth plate on the inside of the elbow. Little league athletes may experience elbow pain that includes aching, sharp pain and swelling on the inside of the elbow.

Treatment of the little league elbow includes rest, ice or heat treatment and anti-inflammatory medications to reduce swelling. In most cases, young athletes can return to the sport after physical therapy, rehabilitation and activity modifications to reduce the risk of further injury.

Pulled elbow

A pulled elbow occurs when one of the three bones of the elbow slips or is pulled out of place. This is a common elbow injury in young children and can be easily treated. Pulled elbows do not typically lead to long-term problems. Orthopedic physicians specializing in childhood elbow injuries will be able to move the bone back into place.

For some children, the elbow pain will go away, and movement will return once the bone is moved back into place. For other children, it may take longer for the pain to go away and for the elbow to move normally again. In some cases, over-the-counter pain medication and a sling or brace may be recommended to reduce discomfort.

Hand & Reconstructive Center of Colorado

The Hand & Reconstructive Center of Colorado at The Medical Center of Aurora is a plastic surgery clinic providing care for patients recovering from cancer treatments, traumatic injuries, including burns, and other disfiguring conditions and illnesses to help restore appearance and function. We also provide cosmetic procedures like face-lifts and body contouring to help restore a person's self-confidence and form. We also perform hand and microvascular surgeries. The most common conditions we treat are carpal tunnel syndrome and trigger finger, but we can treat anything from skier's thumb to wrist fractures to sprains and strains and offer both surgical and non-surgical treatments.