Elbow, Wrist & Hand

The Elbow, Wrist, and Hand contain dozens of bones and joints that work together to create motion. When any one of these structures is injured or affected by disease, the pain will interfere with the ability to do everyday activities, and impact your quality of life.

The Elbow, Wrist, and Hand experts at Orthopaedic Specialists of North County provide comprehensive and compassionate care to treat bone, nerve, joint and muscle pain.

Non-Invasive Treatments

  • Anti-inflammatory medications and steroid injections
  • Pain medication
  • Immobilization
  • Physical therapy
  • Activity modification
  • Hot and cold treatments
  • RICE- rest, ice, compression and elevation

Noninvasive treatments are appropriate for less severe degenerative Elbow, Wrist, and Hand conditions including osteoarthritis, aging or overuse. Surgical treatment may be indicated where noninvasive treatments fail to relieve pain and improve mobility.

Sprains and Strains

Both sprains and strains are first treated to reduce swelling and pain with RICE. Sprains cause injury to the ligament that connects two or more bones at a joint. Symptoms include pain, swelling, bruising, instability and loss of joint movement. A severe sprain can completely tear or rupture a ligament and require surgery.

Strains injure muscles or tendons (tissue that connects muscle to bone), and cause pain, bruising, swelling and inflammation. Many of these can be treated without surgery. But if the strain tears the muscle or tendon completely, surgery may be indicated.

Traditional or Open Surgery

Open surgery involves significant incisions that increase the risk of blood loss, tissue and nerve damage, and a greater risk of infection. Healing and recovery are slower. For complex operations this type of surgery may be necessary. Today, with advances in surgical techniques and technologies, less invasive surgery can accomplish the same outcomes with less risk and complications.

Minimally Invasive Surgery

Minimally invasive surgery is available to treat injuries of the bone and soft tissues of the Elbow, Wrist, and Hand. Wrist arthroscopy is also available for certain conditions. The benefits include small incisions which cause less soft tissue damage, and faster recovery with less pain, swelling and stiffness. The risks are decreased, as compared with open or traditional surgery, but can include infection, loss of motion, and potential damage to nerves, muscles and tendons.

Minimally Invasive techniques are available for:

  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – Constriction of the Median Nerve at the wrist/palm.
  • Cubital Tunnel Syndrome – Pressure or stretching of the Ulnar Nerve at the elbow.
  • Trigger Finger – a condition where the finger or thumb becomes locked in a bent position.
  • Symptoms include discomfort at the base of the thumb or finger where it joins with the palm. It may be sensitive to pressure, a lump may form, and there will be pain, popping, and limited movement.
  • Fractures of the fingers or hand
  • Ruptured ligaments and tendons

Elbow, Wrist, and Hand Fractures

Fractures require a complete orthopedic evaluation including x-rays to determine the type of fracture and the appropriate treatment. Treatment depends on the type and location of the fracture, joint involvement, the age and activity level of the patient, and bone quality. Complex fractures may be too unstable for a cast and need surgical repair.

“Closed reduction” of a fractured bone is setting the bone in the correct position without surgery, to allow the bone to heal. It will require a cast or splint. It helps the bone heal quickly, decreases pain, improves the ability to regain function when it heals and lowers the risk of infection.

“Open reduction” of a fracture is setting the bone with surgery. Once in place, it will be held together with internal or external fixation. Internal fixation uses screws and metal plates to hold the bone together and in place internally. External fixation has the same function but uses metal rods that connect the bone to rods outside of the body.

The board-certified orthopedic experts at Orthopaedic Specialists of North County serve patients in San Diego county including Oceanside, Vista, San Marcos, Escondido, Carlsbad, Encinitas and Solana Beach, California. We are committed to helping people lead active lives. Our team is available to help you regain the ability to successfully return you to your life after an injury or disease of the musculoskeletal system.


"The entire team at OSNC is great, very professional and took the time to put me at ease. And I only have praise for the Dr. Erik Stark, a wonderful doctor who never disappoints!" Patient of Dr. Erik Stark
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