Treatment Options

The branch of medicine dealing with the musculoskeletal system concerns bones, joints, ligaments, cartilage, tendons, muscles, nerves, blood vessels, and skin. The same few basic treatments will keep appearing for all musculoskeletal conditions since these treatments are the most effective and appropriately matched to these problems.

Oral Medications

The most commonly prescribed medicine is an anti-inflammatory medicine like Motrin, Ibuprofen, Aleve, Naproxen or new generation similar drugs like Celebrex. These medications are primarily pain relievers and can be very effective for problems that are not serious. Patients after surgery will receive strong pain relievers that are usually narcotics. These will not be continued for too long since they can become addictive. Patients with painful nerve conditions may need special drugs that calm down nerve irritation but that can be fairly sedating. As always with any medication, check with your primary care doctor to be sure that there is no interference with any other medication you may be taking or any other medical condition you may have. The pharmacist should also always check for these types of interactions before allowing you to have the medicine.

Therapy

The most basic function provided to a patient by the therapists is education and advice on how to use the body for daily activities or correct ergonomic behaviors. Many medical conditions can be brought on by bad habits or bad posture. Other therapist functions are to help stretch tight areas, work to increase motion in joints, build strength and dexterity, and train body parts to work correctly again after damage or surgical reconstruction. Special treatments exist for nerve sensitivity conditions. Specific protocols match the various surgical procedures performed by Dr. Henry. Therapists are also experts at manufacturing custom splints to protect the hand and wrist against deformity or stiffness.

Splints and Casts

After fractures or ligament injuries patients may be placed in splints or casts to prevent further damage while healing occurs. Following surgery, splints prevent damage to the delicate surgical work performed until it is time to have stress placed on the area. Too much immobilization can lead to stiffness, and it is important to follow all instructions regarding how to use the splint or cast and how often it should be worn.

Injections

Cortisone solutions can be very effective in reducing swelling and inflammation when injected into joints and around tendons. There will be pain from the injection for a few days. The effect of the cortisone will kick in after around a week if it is going to be effective. The benefits of the injection often last well beyond the time that the medicine actually stays in the body. Injections tend to be fairly effective for mild conditions but less effective as a long-term solution for more advanced conditions.

Surgery

If a good non-surgical solution can be used to address the problem, that option will always be considered first instead of surgery. Some conditions such as certain fractures, lacerated tendons, or other advanced conditions do not have any good non-surgical solution, and the best answer to the problem is actually surgery. In other cases, the non-surgical solutions will have already been used as much as possible but the condition still remains, making surgery a reasonable choice at that point in time. Surgery is done over at one of the hospitals at a time that has to be scheduled and approved in advance. Most of Dr. Henry’s surgeries are outpatient, checking in and out on the same day. A few are extensive enough to benefit the patient by staying overnight until the next morning. Only complicated limb reconstructions or infection treatments need to stay in the hospital longer. Patients with medical problems should be evaluated by their primary care physicians ahead of time to be sure that all internal medical issues have been addressed before having anesthesia. Surgery usually requires post-operative therapy for the best recovery. A written set of surgery instructions are given for both before and after surgery to help patients follow the many rules that lead to the best outcomes. The single most important aspect of surgery is preventing a post-operative wound infection.

Houston Hand and Wrist