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Hand, Wrist and Elbow Care

Padres star Fernando Tatis Jr throwing a ball

When you have a hand or wrist condition, it can impact your ability to perform a wide range daily life tasks — from opening a door to working on a computer.

Look to UC San Diego Health to treat your hand, wrist or elbow condition. We are repeatedly ranked among the nation's best in orthopedic care by U.S. News & World Report.

UC San Diego Health is the Official Health Care Provider of the San Diego Padres. We are also a designated Center of Excellence for orthopedic care by Optum, which means you'll receive expert, safe and cost-effective care.

When to See a Hand, Wrist or Elbow Specialist

UC San Diego Health Ranked Nationally in Orthopedics

If you have pain, stiffness or loss of mobility that lasts more than a week, you should see a doctor. An early diagnosis and the right treatment can prevent you from doing serious or permanent damage to your hand, wrist or elbow.

Do I Need a Referral for Orthopedic Care?

You can make an appointment with one of our orthopedic specialists directly without a referral. If you have an HMO, however, your insurance plan may require referral from your primary care physician.

Conditions Treated

Whether your condition is common or rare, your UC San Diego Health care team has expertise to treat your condition, including:

Advanced Hand, Wrist and Elbow Care

As a patient with us, you have access to the latest tests, treatments and technologies because UC San Diego Health physicians and their UC San Diego School of Medicine colleagues are researchers, making discoveries to improve your health and quality of life

Evaluation and Diagnosis

You receive a complete work up of your hand, wrist or elbow condition. This includes a careful review of your health history, current symptoms, a physical exam, and if needed X-rays and a bone scan. An MRI may be performed if there are inconsistencies in your diagnosis, symptoms or response to treatment.

If nerve damage is suspected, you may have a nerve conduction test or electromyography (EMG) to look for signs the nerve is being pinched or compressed. Once you have a diagnosis, you and your doctor can discuss your treatment options and goals.

Nonsurgical Care

Many hand, wrist and elbow conditions respond well to nonsurgical treatments. This may include rest, activity modification, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and corticosteroid injections. You may also be referred to our hand therapy program or physical therapy for targeted exercises to restore strength, function and mobility.

See Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation for more information on our comprehensive non-surgical care for orthopedic injuries and conditions.

Surgical Care

UC San Diego Health surgeons are highly skilled and sought out for their expertise in a full spectrum of surgeries to treat all types of hand, wrist and elbow injuries and conditions, including:

  • Closed fixation and reduction surgery to fix broken bones
  • Fasciotomy to treat Dupuytren's disease
  • Joint replacement for severe arthritis
  • Microsurgery for amputations
  • Microsurgery to avoid complete removal of an injured or deformed part
  • Microvascular reattachment surgery (replantation) for severed arms, hands and fingers
  • Nerve repair
  • Surgical drainage or removal of damaged tissue (debridement)
  • Tendon repair

Minimally Invasive Approaches

Whenever possible, your UC San Diego Health surgeon uses minimally invasive techniques to treat soft-tissue and bone injuries. Minimally invasive approaches involve smaller incisions. This reduces tissue damage and scarring. It can also speed up your recovery with less pain.

More About Hand, Wrist and Elbow Conditions

For more general information about hand, wrist and elbow conditions and treatments, visit our Health Library:

Orthopedics Appointments & Referrals

Orthopedic Surgeons

Non-Surgical Orthopedic Care

Certified Hand Therapists

Sports Medicine in Primary Care

Many hand, wrist and elbow conditions can be diagnosed and treated by one of our primary care physicians (PCPs) with expertise in sports medicine. 

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