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Hand & wrist surgery

Hand and wrist surgery is a big sub-speciality within orthopaedics, says our consultant orthopaedic surgeon here at BMI Albyn Hospital in Aberdeen.

We use our hands and wrists for everything from greeting others (shaking hands), showing affection (holding hands) and even to gesticulate while talking to friends and family. In short, hands aren’t just practical for our everyday activities, they’re ‘socially important’ too, says our consultant orthopaedic surgeon.

For the reasons above – and many more besides – losing full functionality of your hands and wrists can and does prove a problem for many of our patients.

They can also pose an issue in an aesthetic sense, too, as many of our patients tell us they feel self-conscious or embarrassed when their hands are affected by anything from an everyday injury to a sporting accident.

Hand and wrist surgery is a big sub-speciality within orthopaedics, says our consultant orthopaedic surgeon here at BMI Albyn Hospital in Aberdeen. A broad specialty, hand and wrist surgery covers a host of conditions.

Common issues experienced by our patients include carpal tunnel syndrome (the compression of the nerve at the wrist), with the main complaint being pins and needles and numbness in the fingers.

With this condition, patients will often wake up in the night with a numb hand, too, which disrupts their sleep and can therefore affect their working day.

Another condition seen often by our consultant orthopaedic surgeon is Dupuytren's contracture (also known as Dupuytren's disease).

The condition is particularly common in Aberdeen as, interestingly, the disease is understood to be more prevalent in places the Vikings travelled to. A genetic condition, with patients experiencing symptoms including a thickening of the palm of their hand, Dupuytren's disease does not often require treatment.

While the condition isn’t painful, it can be frustrating, with one or more fingers bending in towards the palm and the function of the hands often significantly reduced as a result. The condition tends to begin with the thickening of the palm, which doesn’t often cause the patient too much trouble.

Over the years, however, the fingers may start to curl in, with the patient often being able to make a fist but not straighten their fingers.

A progressive condition, it may mean the patient struggles to put on gloves over time (which can be frustrating in certain jobs where gloves are a daily requirement), or they may find that, when washing their face, their finger(s) wants to slide up their nose or into their eye. It isn’t known what triggers the condition and, in some patients, symptoms can slowly creep in.

It’s also more common in men than women. There are many more conditions that affect the hand and wrist but carpal tunnel syndrome and Dupuytren’s disease are two of the main ones seen within the orthopaedic department at BMI Albyn Hospital.

Our consultant orthopaedic surgeon at BMI Albyn Hospital will take a full medical history, before examining you.

With carpal tunnel syndrome, for example, nerve conduction tests may indicate pressure on the nerve. If it’s mild, it can sometimes be treated with a steroid injection.

If you have well-established pressure on the nerve, though, you may wish to be booked in for a small operation, under a local anaesthetic, in which the objective would be to release the nerve. This only takes around 15 minutes, says our consultant orthopaedic surgeon, and it’s a ‘reliable and predictable’ procedure.

Treatments for Dupuytren’s disease include percutaneous needle fasciotomy. During the procedure, one or more fibrous bands are cut using a bevel of a needle, which allows the tissue to release, to give the finger a chance to stretch. The condition may later return quicker in patients who opt for this procedure, but it can be performed as a relatively straightforward outpatient treatment at Albyn.

More traditional surgery may include a zigzag cut down the finger to cut away the tissue – and in this instance, a physiotherapist may also be required to work alongside our consultant orthopaedic surgeon to provide the best possible outcome for the patient going forward.

One in three women can get arthritis in the base of the thumb – and while many people don’t require any surgery, sometimes a splint or steroid injection may be needed.

If, however, the pain cannot be controlled, an operation may be suggested, whereby the bone from the base of the thumb is removed in what is described by our consultant orthopaedic surgeon as a ‘tried and tested’ operation.

Of course, there are many more hand and wrist conditions besides those – with wrist ligament injuries amongst them, osteoarthritis, trigger finger, mucous cysts, and more.

Our consultant orthopaedic surgeon is working hard behind the scenes here at BMI Albyn Hospital, with a view to introducing a brand-new treatment for base of thumb arthritis in the form of a base of thumb replacement. Part of the original trials of the treatment, he says that it’s something ‘we may start offering privately soon too’.

If you’re suffering from a hand and wrist-related problem, BMI Albyn Hospital can help.

Consultations begin with our consultant orthopaedic surgeon taking your full medical history, before understanding more about the kind of symptoms you may be experiencing as a result of your hand and wrist issue.

A bespoke treatment plan may then be offered, which can include anything from minor procedures performed within a day, or more complex surgeries where you may be required to stay overnight.

People travel to BMI Albyn Hospital for hand and wrist surgery from a range of towns and cities, including in around Aberdeen itself, Inverness, the Scottish Highlands, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

BMI Albyn Hospital offers state-of-the-art equipment – in regard to laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery.

The hospital has great ward facilities, too, where patients can be monitored carefully.

If you’re looking for a hand and wrist surgeon in Albyn, BMI Albyn Hospital provides a wide range of consultant-led appointments. At a glance, here are some reasons why you might want to choose BMI Albyn Hospital for general surgery:

  • Flexible appointments and shorter waiting times – At BMI Albyn Hospital, waiting times are short, and appointment times are flexible.
  • Consultant-led appointments – Your hand and wrist appointment will be consultant-led, and you will see the same person each time – from your consultation, right through to any treatment needed.
  • Patient satisfaction and personalised care – Albyn BMI Hospital has been awarded a 98.1% patient satisfaction score, with the results compiled by independent agency, Quality Health,
  • Remote consultations – You may have the opportunity to use a platform like Microsoft Teams to chat to a consultant from the comfort of your home.
  • A multidisciplinary clinic – Our team within hand and wrist surgery offer a multidisciplinary approach to your healthcare. Working closely with a dedicated team of physiotherapists here at Albyn – all of whom complete hand therapy training – a combined clinic is offered to patients, which is ‘quite unusual’ in the private sector.

Want to make an appointment with our consultant orthopaedic surgeon here at BMI Albyn Hospital? Simply call our friendly team on 01224 595993.

Alternatively, you can use our handy online booking system.

Specialists Offering Hand & wrist surgery

Mr David Andrew Cairns

Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon

BSc, MB ChB, FRCS Ed (Tr & Orth)

BMI Albyn Hospital

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Mr David F Lawrie

Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon

MB ChB FRCSEd (Tr and Orth)

BMI Albyn Hospital

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Ms Louise McCullough

Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon

MBChB,FRCSEd (Tr & Orth), Dip SEM

BMI Albyn Hospital

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Mr Jamil Shaikh Ahmed

Consultant Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon

MBBS, MSc, FRCS, FRCS(Plast), FEBOPRAS, EBH Diploma Hand surgery

BMI Albyn Hospital

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Mr Robert Duthie

Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon

MBChB, FRCS (Tr & Orth)

BMI Albyn Hospital

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Mr Alan Johnstone

Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon


BMI Albyn Hospital

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