A comprehensive resource on Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation at UAB.

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Hand & Upper Extremity

Your hands are the privileged messengers of your mind, allowing you to express your thoughts, emotions and ideas. Your wrists, elbows and shoulders make it possible for you to position your hands in space in an optimal manner to interact with your environment.  UAB Orthopaedics  offers comprehensive, state-of-the-art care for disorders affecting the upper extremities to ensure they remain healthy and functional.

About our Care
 UAB Orthopaedic  upper extremity surgeons provide a wide array of specialized care for patients with hand, wrist, forearm, elbow and shoulder disorders. Our nationally and internationally renowned physicians provide individualized patient care to ensure precise and effective treatment of every condition. As the largest group of hand and upper extremity physicians in the state of Alabama, we work closely with specially trained therapists to restore function and relieve pain. We provide care for people all over the world, and in 2009, nearly 12,000 patients trusted us with their care, including famous athletes, musicians and performing artists.

Additionally, UAB orthopaedic upper extremity surgeons work closely with renowned specialists in musculoskeletal radiology, who provide advanced imaging of the hand and upper extremity. This real-time collaboration improves the accuracy of diagnosis as well as the precision and effectiveness of treatment.

Our Specialists
Hand and upper extremity subspecialists focus on this specific area of orthopaedics and are fellowship trained experts. They have devoted their careers to further study, education and research in the field. Our subspecialists treat only patients within their area of expertise, and they share their knowledge and experience by training other surgeons, lecturing internationally and throughout the United States, and authoring textbooks. UAB hand and upper extremity physicians are the preferred providers for many elite athletes, musicians and other performing artists. Several of our subspecialists are consistently named in the Best Doctors in Alabama list and are leaders in national subspecialty and specialty orthopaedic organizations.

Conditions Treated and Services Performed
UAB physicians skilled in treating hands and upper extremities perform a variety of services and procedures for many conditions, including:
Hand, Wrist and Elbow

  • Congenital disorders
  • Sports related injuries including
    • wrist and scaphoid fractures
    • wrist ligament injuries
    • flexor and extensor tendon disruption
  • Arthroscopy (viewing the joint with a special camera) and minimally invasive surgery
  • Vascularized bone grafting that increases blood flow to the bone graft
  • Scapholunate ligament repair and reconstruction using tendon and ligament transfers
  • Acute traumatic injuries including
    • fractures
    • ligament disruptions
    • tendon, artery and nerve lacerations
  • Complex deformities and disorders following trauma, especially nonunions (bones that haven’t healed), malunions (bones that have healed incorrectly) and joint instability
  • Arthritis and joint replacement
  • Nerve compression syndromes (such as carpal tunnel syndrome and capital tunnel syndrome)
  • Brachial plexus disorders in adults
  • Tumors and masses in the upper extremity
  • Avascular necrosis (loss of blood supply to a bone) involving the wrist (Kienbock’s Disease)
  • Dupuytren’s disease and joint stiffness
  • Biceps and triceps tendon rupture at the elbow
  • Soft tissue defects requiring flap coverage
  • Paralytic and spastic disorders


  • Sports related injuries, including
    • shoulder separations
    • dislocations
    • joint instability
    • labral and rotator cuff tears
  • Rotator cuff disorders, including
    • impingement/bursitis
    • partial thickness tears
    • full thickness tears
    • massive rotator cuff tears
  • Proximal biceps tendon rupture and tendonitis
  • Arthritis and shoulder replacement surgery
  • Primary and revision total shoulder replacements
  • Reverse total shoulder replacement for shoulders with irreparable rotator cuff tears
  • Avascular necrosis (loss of blood supply to a bone) of the humeral head
  • Acute traumatic injuries including humeral and clavicle fractures and tendon injuries
  • Post-traumatic shoulder fracture malunions (bones that have healed incorrectly), nonunions (bones that haven’t healed), and arthritis

Therapy Provided

  • Pediatric hand therapy
  • Custom static and dynamic splint fabrication
  • Functional capacity evaluations and impairment ratings
  • Compression therapy and manual edema massage
  • Desensitization and sensory re-education
  • Functional activity and hand writing techniques
  • Joint protection instruction/energy conservation instruction
  • Manual therapy and exercises
  • Modalities
  • Nutrition instruction
  • Orthotic design, selection, fitting, fabrication and training:
  • Scar management
  • Work conditioning and work hardening
  • Wound care
  • Ergonomic and activity modification in home, work, school or leisure


  • Digital X-ray
  • Fluoroscopy
  • On site MRI, CT and ultrasound
  • Developmental assessment of congenital differences

At UAB, our physicians work toward providing new innovations for the treatment of hands and upper extremities. Through research studies performed at UAB, our patients have access to tomorrow’s cutting-edge technology today, including:

  • Non-invasive methods for improving wrist stability following injury
  • Minimally invasive distal biceps tendon repair
  • Development of a fixed angle volar plate, which allows improved repair of complex intra-articular fractures
  • Development of techniques, instrumentation and implants to allow minimally invasive wrist reconstruction
  • Improved stability of proximal humeral fracture repairs through calcar fixation
  • Improved suture strengths for arthroscopic rotator cuff repairs
  • Technique of greater volume reduction for arthroscopic shoulder instability repair
  • Instrumentation to allow improved visualization of glenoid for total shoulder replacement

Physicians in UAB Orthopaedics see patients at UAB Highlands, located in Birmingham’s Medical Center district.

1201 11th Avenue South
Birmingham, AL 35205

UAB Hand and Upper Extremity specialists gladly accept physician referrals. Please call 1-800-UAB-MIST (1-800-822-6478) for information on referring your patient to us.

Last Update

February 15, 2010