Type of Surgery

Introduction to Hand and Wrist Surgery

Last updated: 02/23/2009

Our hands play in invaluable role in the daily manipulation of objects. Whether it’s fitting a key into your front door or doing heavy lifting, the complex structures that allow your fingers to move and your muscles to flex do more for us than we may realize. Hand and wrists are, unfortunately, susceptible to a whole host of afflictions that can render them useless, painful, or clumsy. Carpal tunnel syndrome, for example, creates a painful pressure on the median nerve of the wrist. Though its precise causes are debatable—certain parties have linked it to genetics, other hand and wrist diseases, and work-related stress—it can be corrected with a simple surgical procedure. Arthritis often calls for work on tendons, joints, and even for the removal of bony growths. Other cases that may benefit from surgical work are fractures of the delicates bones of the hand and wrist, congenital deformities, and reconstructive work.
Costs of Hand and Wrist Surgery
A study presented at the 63rd Annual Meeting of the American Society for the Surgery of the Hand found the cost of short-incision open carpal tunnel release to be about $3,000 per patient*. Although this figure may not fully represent the cost of every scenario—for example, some surgeons prefer to choose endoscopic carpal tunnel surgery for patients who also have complications from diabetes or arthritis—it is a good starting point for personal research.
Open surgical treatment for wrist fractures costs an average of about $1,500. Depending on the exact nature of your fracture and the bones involved, however, you may find yourself paying more or less.
The effects of arthritis in the hand and wrist can often be corrected with surgical procedures, costs of which usually range in the thousands. It is difficult to provide a precise number, because the type of operation ultimately chosen can vary so much—your case may call for an operation on hand and wrist bones, while another patient may need work on tendons and nerves, and yet another might opt for joint replacement or the removal of bony spurs. 
Always consult your surgeon for the most accurate price estimate, especially when you seek an operation to correct deformities and other less typical afflictions.
Additional Costs
Once you leave the operating room, costs of certain hand and wrist surgeries may continue to accrue. Braces, splints, and medication are common accessories to help you through the healing process, and these can cost hundreds of extra dollars. Other procedures require physical therapy before full functionality of the hand and wrist can be regained. Rarer but still not unheard of are operation that require follow-ups. Speak to your surgeon to make sure that you have a full picture of the costs before you commit yourself!
Insurance for Hand and Wrist Surgery
Most hand and wrist surgeries that are your surgeon recommend will qualify for insurance coverage. Reconstructions, fracture surgery, and the correction of symptoms of carpal tunnel and arthritis are almost always seen as medical necessities. However, it never hurts to check the fine print first: call up your insurance provider and see which procedures they cover, and how much of each. In some cases, your company’s policy might put non-surgical treatments before surgical ones. If this is true for you, then have your surgeon provide a Letter of Medical Necessity in order to argue for your operation.

Last Updated: 02/23/2009

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