Jersey City Medical Center has opened a “Hand and Upper Extremity Service” for patients with pain and dysfunction ranging from arthritis, to common disorders like carpal tunnel syndrome, to injuries of the shoulder, elbow, forearm, wrist and hand. The service also deals with treating complex wounds with skin grafting and muscle transfer procedures.
“We’re providing New York-style medicine in New Jersey,” said Dr. John Capo, chief of the hospital’s Hand Service, who is board certified in both orthopaedic surgery and surgery of the hand, and is a Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery in the Division of Hand Surgery at NYU Langone Medical Center. He and his staff treat deformities of these areas whether the conditions are congenital, caused by trauma, or a result of arthritis and aging.
The hand, Dr. Capo explained, is a unique area of the human body, comprised of bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles, nerves, skin and blood vessels. The relationship between these structures is a delicate one, and injury or disease can affect any one of them to impair use of the hand. Patients range from an octogenarian who because of arthritis can no longer work her fingers well enough to remain independent, to a young athlete who has badly fractured his wrist or forearm.
Treatment of an injury or disorder may include such non-surgical treatments as medication, splints, therapies or injections. Or it can involve the use of microsurgery, joint replacement techniques and the latest in biologic materials.
“We see many patients with injuries from motor vehicle or job-related accidents,” said Dr. Capo, who is regularly selected as one of the top hand surgeons in New Jersey and has extensive experience in education and research. “This can involve very complex, highly specialized treatment.
While it may seem fairly obvious that extensive medical training would be needed to reattach a severed hand or fingers – as Dr. Capo recent did in the case of a machinist who was injured on the job – many people with pain and/or a decreased motion may not be aware that help is available.
Just as with the knee or hip, hand and wrist joints can wear out because of arthritis or everyday stress. In fact, it is estimated that one out of every five Americans has at least one joint with signs or symptoms of arthritis. About half of arthritis sufferers are under the age of 50.
As cartilage degenerates in the hand, the underlying bone can become exposed and result in bone rubbing on bone and causing pain, swelling, a grinding or popping sensation, limited mobility, and pain. These symptoms may lead to difficulty with such daily living activities as tying shoes, buttoning buttons, opening jars, or turning a key in a lock. Medical advances now allow hand surgeons to replace joints here, as orthopaedists for years have done for the knee and hip.
The “Hand and Upper Extremity Service” is just the latest area of specialized care provided by Jersey City Medical Center. Other recent specialty areas to open include a Rheumatology Center for patients with rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases and an Electrophysiology Lab for patients with irregular heartbeats. Other services like its Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, that now cares for babies in the first month of life as well as newborns; Bariatric Surgery that offers various options for obese patients; and its oncology service that now cares for patients with all types of cancer, have been expanded.
“The diagnosis and treatment of injuries and conditions involving the hand and upper extremities is very specialized and we are very pleased to be able to now offer people in our community the skills and expertise of Dr. Capo and his staff,” said Dr. Kenneth Garay, Chief Medical Officer at Jersey City Medical Center. “Once again, we believe this allows the people who live and work in Hudson County the opportunity to receive first-class care minutes away.”