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Frequently Asked Questions

Have a question? Feel free to give us a call or use the contact form; but you can also check here for quick reference!

Please be aware that in the case of an emergency, the advice below does not replace the assessment and treatment plan of a qualified medical professional. If you are injured, contact 911 immediately.

Administrative

How do I schedule an apppointment?

Please call the office at 208-235-HAND (4263) to schedule an appointment with one of our providers. Our secretaries will be happy to take your call and answer any questions you may have.

When calling to schedule an appointment, please have the following information ready:

– Personal Information: Name, Address, Phone, Date of Birth, and Social Security Number, Marital Status, Name of the Referring Physician

– Insurance Information, including your policy and group numbers

- Pharmacy of choice

What do I need to bring for appointment?

If you are a new patient, please bring your completed New Patient form, visit our patient portal, or arrive 30 minutes early in order to complete the required paperwork and health history. Please bring the following to your appointment:

- Bring your insurance card, or insurance information

- Bring your copay, if applicable

- Bring a list of medications you are currently taking. Include dosage, frequency, and schedule (your pharmacy can print a list at your request. If you would like them to fax your list to us, our fax number is 233-4268)

- Please submit your health profile through our patient portal, or complete and bring the new patient paperwork

- Bring copies of applicable medical records, x-rays, MRIs, EMGs, etc. from prior doctor visits

- If you are insured by Medicaid, Healthy Connections requires a referral from your primary care provider

- If you are insured by Indian Health Services, please bring a signed referral from contract health

If you participate in a Connect health plan, please bring a referral from your primary care provider

Will the physician be on time?

We understand that your time is valuable and will make every effort to ensure that you are seen on time. However, there may sometimes be unavoidable delays due to complications with other patients and emergency issues. We strive to ensure timeliness but thank you for your patience when delays occur.

I do not have any health insurance. What should I do?

Call us at 208-235-HAND (4263) before your first appointment. Our financial counselor will speak with you regarding the estimated cost of care and your payment options.

I have health insurance. What are my financial responsibilities?

Please bring your insurance card, or your insurance information with you in order for us to bill your insurance. If you do not have it, we will consider you to be an uninsured patient and the self-pay patient policies will apply. Having insurance will only cover a portion of your costs; these costs are dependent on your individual or family policy. While we are happy to assist you, it is your responsibility to know your health insurance benefits. Please note that while we will bill your insurance company as a courtesy to you, we will not bill for third-party liability. Financial Policy Document

Are your physicians in network with my insurance company?

The physicians at Idaho Hand Institute are contracted with most major insurance companies. Please call the customer service phone number on the back of your insurance card to ensure the most accurate information regarding our physicians and your individual plan. We have discovered from time to time that provider lists are not always up to date. Call us if you question the accuracy of your insurance company’s provider list.

My employer or nurse case manager needs a copy of my work status report. How do I get one?

Most employers require status reports for work related injuries. These reports document the details of the injury, expected work restrictions, and any required time off. A work status report is available upon request during your appointment or as needed. We are happy to provide these for you.

First aid

I burned my hand and/or arm, what should I do?

Put the burned area under water for about fifteen minutes. Apply a clean compress or bandage to the burn and seek medical attention. Do not apply lotions or other products. Do not apply ice to the burn; it may further damage the tissue. Do not break any blisters, this may lead to infection.

I cut off part of my finger, what should I do?

Place the fragment in a waterproof plastic bag. Place the plastic bag on ice. DO NOT ALLOW THE FRAGMENT TO COME IN DIRECT CONTACT WITH ICE. Cover the injured finger with a bandage. Do not use a tourniquet. Elevate the arm and seek medical attention immediately. Do not discard any fragments that look destroyed or useless. Your physician may utilize those items that are still intact.

I may have broken my arm, what should I do?

ALL fractures and possible fractures require treatment, seek medical attention immediately. Stabilize the arm using a towel or a rolled newspaper as a sling. Apply ice to the injured area to minimize pain and swelling. If your fracture has not broken the skin (closed or simple fracture), you may only need a sling, splint or partial cast depending on the severity of the break. If your fracture has broken the skin (open or compound fracture), you may need casting, fixation, or admission to the hospital, depending on the severity.

I have been bitten by a dog/cat/human, what should I do?

Bites may not look like a bad injury, but mouths are often filled with germs and other bacteria that can quickly cause a serious infection. In the case of a bite wound, rinse and wash the site in running water, elevate the injured extremity, and seek professional medical attention immediately. Also take note of the type of bite that you have sustained and the type of animal that it came from. Your physician will use this information to determine the need for anti-rabies vaccinations.

I have a piece of glass stuck in my hand, what should I do?

The only splinters that you should remove yourself are those that can be firmly grasped and gently removed from your hand. Anything that is deep or has broken off must be removed by a professional. Most deep splinters will become infected if left alone, simply because the wound is kept open by the splinter. Wash the wound, cover it with a bandage, and seek medical attention.

Questions from "The Doctor is in" as seen in the Idaho State Journal

What is Trigger Finger?

A trigger finger is the locking or catching of one or more of your fingers in either a bent or straight position. The thumb can also develop this same condition. Although a “classic trigger” occurs when locking or clicking develops, some people may only experience pain. Gripping activities can make the symptoms worse. A trigger finger develops when the tendons that bend the finger into the palm become inflamed, initially causing pain. Inflammation of the tendon causes swelling, which will lead to the tendon getting stuck on the sheath it has to slide through. If you are experiencing these symptoms, call us at Idaho Hand Institute at 208-235-HAND (4263) to discuss surgical and non-surgical treatment options.

What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome is compression of the median nerve as it crosses the wrist. This compression causes numbness and tingling of the thumb, index finger, middle finger, and, to a lesser extent, the ring finger. Pain in the wrist and hand are often associated with this condition. If left untreated, weakness and loss of muscle can occur. Symptoms are often worse at night, while driving, or while talking on the phone. If you are experiencing these symptoms, call us at Idaho Hand Institute at 208-235-HAND (4263) to discuss surgical and non-surgical treatment options.

What is De Quervain's Tenosynovitis?

De Quervain’s (dih-kwer-VAINS) is a painful condition of the tendons at the base of the thumb and side of the wrist.  Common symptoms include discomfort when grasping, turning the wrist, or making a fist. You may notice pain at the back of the thumb or the index finger joint, swelling, redness, numbness, difficulty moving your thumb, and possibly a catching or sticking sensation. Try using cold packs, resting the joint, immobilizing the wrist area with splints, or even taking over the counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications. If at home treatments fail to relieve the problem, come in and see us at Idaho Hand Institute, 208-235-HAND (4263).

What can I do to prevent common winter injuries?

Common winter sports injuries include sprains, strains, dislocations and fractures. To help avoid these types of injuries, warm up thoroughly before play, always wear protective gear, including goggles, helmets, gloves, and padding, layer your clothing for improved ability to control your body temperature, know and follow all rules and regulations, drink plenty of fluids, and never participate alone. If you are participating in an activity for the first time, take a lesson from a qualified instructor.

What are some of the common winter hand and wrist injuries you see?

The most common injuries we see in the winter are:

- Slips and falls resulting in hand, forearm, wrist, and hip fractures

- Soft tissue injuries from the heavy lifting, bending, and twisting involved in shoveling snow

- Frostbite

- Hand vs snowblower injuries

- Skier’s thumb (tear of a thumb ligament)

- Basketball and other sports related injuries, like finger fractures and sprains

If you are experiencing any of these conditions, call us at Idaho Hand Institute at 208-235-HAND (4263) to discuss surgical and non-surgical treatment options.

Why are hands often more swollen in the morning?

There are a variety of health conditions that can cause your hands to be swollen in the morning. However, one major contributor is simply the activity level and the position of your hands relative to your body at night. While you are awake, every day activities and muscle use work against gravity to facilitate the pumping of body fluids back to the heart; however, gravity still slows blood flow in your lower extremities and fluid is more likely to pool there when you are upright. At night inactivity in your hands reduce venous return back to the heart. Your hands rest at or near the same level as your legs thereby removing the gravity factor and causing fluid pooling to be more equally distributed. Therefore, if there is anything inflamed in your hands there is more fluid available for them to swell. If you experience swollen hands in the morning try pumping your fists and extending your fingers, elevating your hands above the level of your heart, and massaging the tissue towards the direction of your heart.

What is a hand surgeon?

Although the term “hand surgery” may insinuate hands-only care, hand surgeons generally deal with surgical and non-surgical conditions of the fingers, wrist, forearm, and elbow too. Many of us have received additional training in the shoulder as well. Some hand surgeons are orthopedic surgeons, while others are plastic or general surgeons, all of whom are required to take specialized hand training. Both Dr. Esplin and Dr. Stucki are board certified orthopedic surgeons and fellowship trained in the care of the hand and upper extremities. If you experience an injury or have pain or numbness from the fingers to the shoulder, or somewhere in between, you may consider consulting with your local hand surgeon. We commonly treat trigger finger, carpal tunnel, fractures, dislocations, arthritis, tendinitis, tennis elbow, lacerations of arteries, tendons, and nerves, shoulder instability, impingement, and tears, to name a few.