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Elbows General

What is the Difference Between Tennis Elbow and Golfer’s Elbow?

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Elbow pain due to overexertion may feel like it’s coming from all over, and patients really just want the pain gone. The first step in treating elbow pain, however, is to pinpoint the exact location of the problem, which is the primary difference between tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow.

These two common conditions bring many patients into our elbow doctor’s offices in West Bloomfield, Howell, Warren, and Macomb Township every year.

The good news is that both of these conditions are highly treatable with self-care, rest, or the use of an elbow brace. When these remedies are not effective, elbow surgery is an option as well.

What is Tennis Elbow?

Technically called lateral epicondylitis, tennis elbow occurs when the tendons that anchor the muscle to the bone on the outside (lateral) part of the elbow are overused. When these tendons degenerate or become inflamed, it weakens and causes stress on the entire site.

In other words, tennis elbow is caused by a swelling of the tendons that bend your wrist backward away from your palm. People who repeatedly use their elbow and arm muscles may be susceptible to tennis elbow, such as painters, plumbers, and butchers, as well as athletes.

Symptoms of tennis elbow include pain or burning on the outer part of the elbow, as well as a weaker grip. They typically are worsened with forearm activity, such as holding a tennis racquet or turning a wrench. The pain is typically mild at first, but worsens over time if the action that is causing it is not minimized. Tennis elbow is usually not associated with a traumatic injury.

The dominant arm is affected more often than the non-dominant arm.

Tennis elbow can usually be treated with rest, pain medication, Botox injections, or the use of a brace. Tennis elbow surgery may be recommended in more extreme cases.

Tennis elbow occurs due to overuse of the elbow’s outer tendons. This diagram shows the anatomy of the elbow in relation to tennis elbow.
Tennis elbow occurs due to overuse of the elbow’s outer tendons.

What is Golfer’s Elbow?

Golfer’s elbow is more formally called medial epicondylitis. It is sometimes referred to as baseball elbow or suitcase elbow.

The source of the pain is on the inner side of the elbow. It occurs when the tendon that connects the forearm muscles to the bone is overused.

Golfer’s elbow is about twice as common in men than in women. Despite its name, it is caused by general overuse and can affect virtually anyone.

Golfer’s elbow also can be treated with rest, pain medication, injections, and the use of a brace.

The main difference between tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow is the location of the inflammation. Tennis elbow hurts on the outside. Golfer’s elbow hurts on the inside. In this image, a golfer holds his elbow in pain.
The main difference between tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow is the location of the inflammation. Tennis elbow hurts on the outside. Golfer’s elbow hurts on the inside.

What is the Difference Between Tennis Elbow and Golfer’s Elbow?

While causes and treatments are similar, there are some differences between tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow.

The primary difference is the source of the inflammation. With tennis elbow, the outside of the elbow and forearm areas are inflamed, but with golfer’s elbow, inflammation is on the inner side of the arm and elbow.

Likewise, tennis elbow stems from damage to an outside tendon, and golfer’s elbow is associated with damage to an inner tendon.

Both are forms of elbow tendinitis.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Elbow Pain

For most people, the pain subsides by reducing or eliminating the action that is causing it. Physical therapy to strengthen the muscles in the arms may help as well. When self-care, rest, and the use of pain medications or a brace do not help, surgery may be necessary.

Elbow surgery options include:

  • Open surgery, which requires making an incision at the elbow and is performed on an outpatient basis.
  • Arthroscopic surgery, an outpatient procedure that uses smaller instruments and smaller incisions.

A common surgery to treat golfer’s elbow is called medial epicondyle release. It requires an incision along the arm over the medial epicondyle, and the surgeon’s goal will be to take tension off the flexor tendon.

Similarly, a lateral epicondylitis surgery can be used to treat tennis elbow. The goal of this surgery will be to release a portion of the tendon from the bone, remove the inflamed tendon, or repair tendon tears.

For proper treatment, it’s important to differentiate between tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow. For a diagnosis and treatment plan, make an appointment to see Dr. Arora at one of his southeast Michigan locations.

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Elbows General

5 Common Conditions that May Require Elbow Surgery

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Most elbow pain is temporary, but persistent pain or discomfort that affects your quality of life may require elbow surgery.

We treat several common conditions that may require elbow surgery at our southeast Michigan offices. Make an appointment to see our elbow surgeon in Macomb Township, Warren, Howell, or West Bloomfield for the following treatments or a diagnosis of your condition.

Cubital Tunnel Syndrome Surgery

Cubital tunnel syndrome occurs when there is too much pressure on the ulnar nerve, which runs along the ulna bone in the forearm and enters the hand near the pinky and ring fingers.

Causes of cubital tunnel syndrome include leaning on hand surfaces or bending the elbow for an extended period of time, or you may develop cubital tunnel syndrome due to an anomaly in the anatomy of your elbow. If you have this condition, you may experience severe pain and numbness in the elbow, as well as tingling or weakness in your ring and pinky fingers. It may become difficult to close your hand.

The first line of treatment for cubital tunnel syndrome is to avoid the action that is causing the pain. Using pain relief medications and wearing a splint at night may help as well.

When self-treatment does not help, cubital tunnel syndrome surgery may be recommended. The goal is to relieve the pressure by releasing and moving the ulnar nerve to the front of the elbow or increasing the size of the cubital tunnel.

Tennis Elbow Surgery & Other Treatment Options

Known as tennis elbow, lateral epicondylitis is a painful condition involving the tendons that attach to the bone on the outside (lateral) part of the elbow. The tendon’s attachment to the bone degenerates, which places increased stress on the area.

People who repeatedly use their elbow and arm muscles may be susceptible to tennis elbow, such as painters, plumbers, and butchers.

Tennis elbow can usually be treated with rest, pain medication, Botox injections, or the use of a brace. Tennis elbow surgery may be recommended in more extreme cases.

Elbow Fracture Examination & Treatment

Elbow fractures may occur due to a fall or direct impact. Pain, swelling, bruising, and stiffness in and around the elbow suggest a possible fracture. A snap or pop at the time of injury may be felt or heard as well.

Types of elbow fractures include:

  • Olecranon fractures
  • Fractures of the distal humerus
  • Radial head and neck fractures of the elbow

Depending on the type of injury and its severity, treatment options for elbow fractures include splint immobilization, casting the elbow, physical therapy, surgery to realign the bone fragments, and external fixation to stabilize the fractures.

Olecranon Bursitis Surgery & Assessment

The olecranon is the pointy bone at the tip of the elbow. A small sac of fluid called a “bursa” covers the tip of this bone. Sometimes this area gets irritated and the body makes extra fluid inside the sac, causing a big “balloon” that looks like a golf ball to form at the tip of the elbow.

Causes of olecranon bursitis include hitting the elbow on an object, overuse of the elbow, systemic diseases, and medical procedures.

It’s usually not painful, but it sometimes becomes infected. Remedies include using a splint and compression to rest the bursa, using elbow pads, using antibiotics to clear the infection, having cortisone injections, or drawing fluid out of the bursa with a needle in a procedure known as aspiration.

Olecranon bursitis surgery may be required if other remedies are not successful.

Golfer’s Elbow Treatment

Golfer’s elbow causes and treatments are similar to that of tennis elbow, but there are some differences between the two conditions.

The primary difference is the source of the inflammation. With tennis elbow, the outside of the elbow and forearm areas are inflamed, but with golfer’s elbow, inflammation is on the inner side of the arm and elbow.

Likewise, tennis elbow stems from damage to an outside tendon, and golfer’s elbow is associated with damage to an inner tendon.

Golfer’s elbow is more formally called medial epicondylitis, and it is sometimes referred to as baseball elbow or suitcase elbow.

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Conditions Elbows Treatments

Tennis Elbow Treatment, Causes and Prevention

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If you are experiencing pain in your elbow during exercise or routine activity, you may be suffering from tennis elbow. Fortunately, tennis elbow treatment can be very effective.

Tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, is a painful condition involving the tendons that attach to the bone on the outside (lateral) part of the elbow. The tendon’s attachment to the bone degenerates, which places increased stress on the area. This, in turn, leads to pain when the muscle is active, such as during lifting or gripping actions.

Tennis elbow is a common overuse and muscle strain injury. In other words, people who repeatedly use their elbow and arm muscles may be susceptible to tennis elbow. Common causes of tennis elbow (besides playing tennis) include:

  • Work as a painter
  • Frequent use of plumbing tools
  • Driving screws in
  • Cutting up cooking ingredients, such as meat
  • Regular use of a computer mouse

The simplest tennis elbow treatment is rest, along with some pain medication if needed.

While it often gets better on its own, in some cases it may be advisable to explore physical therapy options for treatment. For instance, a physical therapist can coach you on ways to stretch and strengthen the muscles of your forearm, which can counteract the effects of tennis elbow and even help prevent it.

Other treatment options for tennis elbow include Botox or platelet-rich plasma injections into the affected tendon, the use of a brace, or, in extreme cases, surgery.

The best way to prevent tennis elbow in the first place is to avoid repetitive hand, arm, and wrist motions that could cause the deterioration of the elbow tendons. Ensuring the use of proper technique while gripping, lifting, rotating, or participating in any activity that involves your arm and hand should help as well.

If you’d like more information on tennis elbow treatment or would like to set up a consultation appointment, reach out to us at Arora Hand Surgery today.

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Elbows General Hands

Stem Cell Therapy for Hands, Wrists, and Elbows

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Stem cell therapy can be an effective method of treating pain in the hands, wrists, or elbows. If you are a candidate for stem cell therapy, you probably have many questions. Our hand surgeon is here to answer them. In the meantime, following are some of the basics about stem cell therapy for hands, wrists, and elbows.

What is Stem Cell Therapy?

Stem cells are cells from which all other cells are generated. Stem cells divide to form “daughter cells,” with either become new stem cells or specialized cells. They can be guided to become specific cells that can be used for medical purposes, such as repairing damaged tissues. Stem cells may also be grown into new tissue for use in transplants and regenerative medicine.

Individuals who may benefit from stem cell therapy include those with spinal cord injuries, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, heart disease, stroke, osteoarthritis, burns, and cancer.

Stem Cell Therapy for Hands, Wrists, and Elbows

Because stem cells replicate themselves, they can mirror the qualities of healthy cells in order to repair damage. They can decrease inflammation, strengthen the affected area, and repair damaged tissue and tendons.

Stem cell therapy for hands, wrists, and elbows can be used treat trigger finger, joint pain, golfer’s elbow, carpal tunnel, gout, tennis elbow, and arthritis.

  • Cartilage in the wrist specifically has a limited ability to self-repair, and osteoarthritis can lead to a loss of cartilage. Stem cell therapy can help rejuvenate and replenish the cells in the wrist to aid in mobility.
  • Individuals suffering from elbow pain can benefit from stem cell therapy. It enables new, healthy tissue to grow at the site of an injury to reduce pain and repair damage.
  • Pain in the hand and thumb can also be addressed, including arthritis in the fingers.

A board-certified hand surgeon, Dr. Arora and the Arora Hand Surgery team gather stem cells from patients’ own tissue, which can help heal the targeted area without risk of harsh side effects or allergic reactions.

If you are regularly experiencing pain in your hand, wrist, or elbow, contact Dr. Arora to see if stem cell therapy is right for you.

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Conditions Elbows General Hands

Cellphone Overload: How to Avoid Hand and Elbow Pain

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Have you ever used your cellphone for so long that your hands became numb, your fingers stopped functioning properly, and you gave up on mentally blaming autocorrect? If so, it was probably slightly comical at the time. If this happens repeatedly, however, soon enough it won’t be funny anymore. If you do use your phone frequently, it’s important to know how to hold your phone to avoid hand and elbow pain.

If you don’t, eventually you could be dealing with something worse than just sore thumbs, uncooperative fingers, and a really hot ear.

Ways to Avoid Hand and Elbow Pain when Using Cellphones

1. Try using text-to-speak, at least every now and then.

2. Use a cellphone stand so you can set the phone on a table or desk instead of holding it. When you do, you can use any finger you want to play those games and give the other fingers a break.

3. Make a conscious effort to regularly stretch and flex your fingers, wrists, and elbows.

4. If you talk on the phone for long periods of time, holding the phone up to your ear can cause discomfort at your elbow. To avoid this problem, try using:

  • A headset
  • The speaker option
  • A video calling app like FaceTime
  • Internet calling options such as Skype

What Could Happen: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

You might believe that the tingling in your hands due to cellphone use is just a temporary sensation, and it probably is. But if you don’t make conscious efforts to avoid hand and elbow pain when using cellphones, you could end up facing some very real issues.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is the result of swelling and pressure in a “tunnel” in the wrist, which consists of nine tendons and a median nerve.

Causes of this very common condition are unclear, but improper use of keyboards, tools, and even cellphones can increase CTS. Other examples of activities that can increase carpal tunnel syndrome include driving a motorcycle and playing a violin.

Individuals with CTS can experience tingling, a weaker grip, numbness, a tendency to drop things, and pain in the hand and wrist.

Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

Ever wonder why it’s far from funny when something hits your “funny bone”? To the contrary, it’s extremely painful. The truth is that what you feel comes from a nerve that runs behind a bone in the elbow through the “cubital tunnel.”

Pressure on the nerve can affect the blood supply to the nerve, causing arm pain and weakness in the hand. Direct pressure, such as leaning on your elbow, can compress the nerve and cause some of your fingers to “fall asleep.”

Both cubital tunnel syndrome and carpal tunnel syndrome are painful conditions that may lead you to seek medical treatment.

Contact Arora Hand Surgery for More Information

For more information about how cellphone use affects your hands, fingers, wrists, and elbows, explore the Procedures & Conditions pages of our website to learn more about symptoms you may be experiencing. If you’re regularly feeling pain or numbness in your hands or arms, contact one of our Arora Hand Surgery offices by phone or request an appointment online.

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Elbows General

What is Cubital Tunnel Syndrome?

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The ulnar nerve runs along the ulna bone in the forearm before it enters the hand near the little and ring fingers. The ulnar nerve is one of the largest nerves in the human body, but it has almost no protection. This lack of protection makes the ulnar nerve very susceptible to damage. The most common problem with this important nerve is cubital tunnel syndrome.

Cubital tunnel syndrome is a medical condition that forms when there is too much pressure placed on the ulnar nerve. Constantly using your elbow to lean against a hard surface or bending the elbow for an extended period of time are the two most common causes of cubital tunnel syndrome. While these actions may not seem very serious, they are able to cause damage because the ulnar nerve has almost no padding to protect against direct pressure and stretching. It is also possible to develop cubital tunnel syndrome because of an anomaly in the anatomy of your elbow.

It is very easy to spot the signs and symptoms of cubital tunnel syndrome. The medical condition will cause severe pain and numbness in the elbow. You will also likely experience some tingling, weakness and loss of feeling in your ring and little fingers. These issues with the elbow and fingers can make it difficult to close your hand to hold objects. While these symptoms can occur at any time, they will become more severe if the elbow is bent for an extended period of time.

You will need to get properly diagnosed with cubital tunnel syndrome before beginning treatment. The condition can usually be diagnosed with a simple physical examination by our doctor. A nerve test and electromyography may also be done to confirm the diagnosis and look for any serious nerve damage.

Once you have been diagnosed with the condition, it will be time to start treating it. The first thing everyone with cubital tunnel syndrome should do is avoid any actions or activities that place too much pressure on the ulnar nerve and elbow. You must avoid placing your elbow on a hard surface at all times. You may also need to wear a splint at night if you are known to bend your elbow while sleeping.

If these lifestyle changes are not enough to reduce your painful symptoms, then you may need to undergo surgery. The ulnar nerve will be released and moved to the front of the elbow during a cubital tunnel surgery. You may also need to get a portion of your bone removed during the surgery. The surgery will increase the size of the cubital tunnel, which decreases the pressure placed on the ulnar nerve.

Cubital tunnel syndrome surgery is very effective at reducing your painful symptoms. It will likely take several weeks before you see an improvement in your symptoms. Physical therapy can be used to speed up the recovery process, but complete recovery from the surgery will likely take several months.

If you have cubital tunnel syndrome, our trusted doctor can help you at Arora Hand Surgery, conveniently located in Warren, Macomb, West Bloomfield, and Howell. Contact us to schedule your consultation and learn more about your treatment options.

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Elbows General Treatments

Which Treatment for Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis) is Right for Me?

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Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) is a painful medical condition that is caused when the tendons in your elbow become inflamed and overworked. Despite its name, many people get tennis elbow without ever playing the sport. Any repetitious motion of the arm and wrist that is performed almost every day can potentially cause tennis elbow. This condition is also commonly called lateral epicondylitis.

It is very easy to know if you are currently suffering from tennis elbow. The pain will radiate on the outside of the elbow, and it may also travel down the forearm to the wrist. This will make it very difficult to turn doorknobs, shake hands and hold round objects. Painters, plumbers, cooks and recreational racket sport players are at a much higher risk of developing tennis elbow because of the repetitive stress placed on the hand, wrist and forearm.

Treating your tennis elbow in a timely manner is the best way to quickly eliminate the pain. Ignoring your painful symptoms will only make the problem get worse over time. If you are suffering from tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) or if you suspect you may have the condition, then it is important to seek treatment as soon as possible.

In the vast majority of cases, we start with conservative measures. These may include changes in certain activities, anti-inflammatory medications, a brace, steroid injections, shockwave treatment and physical therapy. The exercises used in physical therapy may gradually strengthen and stretch the muscles in your forearm. Our doctor can give you recommendations on how to perform your necessary job tasks without harming your inflamed elbow tendon.

If conservative measures do not work, surgery may be the best option. Generally speaking, in order to qualify for surgery, you must have not responded to conservative treatments, and you must have had symptoms for at least six months. Surgery is considered to be the last resort for tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) sufferers. During this procedure, the problematic tendon tissue is skillfully removed. The techniques used during surgery will depend on the unique situation, but it is always an outpatient procedure and requires months of rehabilitation and physical therapy to fully recover.

During a consultation at Arora Hand Surgery, our doctor can assess your condition and come up with a personalized treatment for you that aims to relieve you of your symptoms. Contact us today to schedule an appointment at our office in West Bloomfield, Howell, Warren, or Macomb.

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Elbows General

Addressing Cubital Tunnel Syndrome for a Better Quality of Life

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Cubital tunnel syndrome, or ulnar nerve entrapment, is a condition affecting the ulnar nerve. This is the nerve that extends from the forearm to the neck. Along the way, it passes through the cubital tunnel, which is near the inner part of the elbow. Muscles, bone and ligaments all form the tunnel. In cubital tunnel syndrome, the ulnar nerve gets compressed in the tunnel.

What are the Symptoms?

The most common symptoms of cubital tunnel syndrome are numbness and tingling in the hand and fingers. Such symptoms are most common in the ring and little fingers, and they tend to be intermittent. These symptoms are most likely to occur if the patient keeps their elbow bent during activities like driving or talking on the phone.

In some cases, the numbness wakes patients in the middle of the night. The patient may also feel as if their fingers are “falling asleep.” In severe cases, cubital tunnel syndrome can also impair coordination and weaken the muscles. The patient will start to have trouble performing such activities as typing or playing an instrument.

If the patient does not get treatment and/or the condition persists a long time, they may experience actual wasting of the hand muscles. Since this is not reversible, the patient should see our team if they have symptoms and/or have had symptoms for over six weeks.

How is Cubital Tunnel Syndrome Treated?

A person usually starts with various home remedies, many of which involve resting the affected arm. For example, they may avoid activities that require bending their elbows for a long time. Before going to bed, they may wrap a towel around their arm to make sure it stays straight while they sleep.

When such measures don’t work, our team at Arora Hand Surgery can come up with a customized treatment plan for you. This may involve the use of a splint, hand therapy and/or surgery, depending on the situation. Surgery is usually only recommended for severe cases of cubital tunnel syndrome. The patient will almost always need some type of physical therapy during their recovery.

During a consultation at Arora Hand Surgery, Dr. Arora and his team can assess your condition and come up with a personalized treatment that aims to give you a better quality of life.  Contact our West Bloomfield, Howell, Warren, or Macomb office today to schedule an appointment to learn more about your treatment options!

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Elbows General Treatments

How To Treat A Broken Elbow

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How a broken elbow is treated depends largely on the type of injury. Treatment could involve nothing more than applying a splint to the arm and keeping it elevated as much as possible. On the other hand, it could involve surgery to repair not only damaged bones, but damaged blood vessels and nerves.

Treatment will also depend on your age. As an example, children and adults usually injure their elbows in different ways, and they also heal differently.

Medication

If you have broken your elbow, at some point you will almost certainly require medication. Oral medications are frequently used for mild pain, whereas injections may be needed for pain that is moderate to severe – this type of medication can be delivered directly into the joint. If the elbow needs to be re-set, you will probably require a sedative to help you relax while the doctor re-sets the bone.

Re-setting the bone not only puts it back into its correct position, but it will also go a long way toward relieving pain. Frequently, broken bones can cut blood vessels and nerves, or press on them. Re-setting the bones stops this sort of damage. Medications can be provided during the re-setting process, as well as afterward to help with pain relief as healing progresses.

Surgery

If you have a compound injury (an injury in which at least one of the bones at your elbow is protruding through the skin), you may need an operation. With this type of injury, there is a good chance that blood vessels and nerves have been damaged. Additionally, the bone and surrounding tissue will need to be cleaned before the bone is put back in place, in order to prevent infection.

Draining

If the elbow joint is filled with fluid, it can be drained. This will relieve pain and pressure.

Splints, Slings and Casts

Splints are used for a variety of elbow injuries. They are usually made from plaster, and placed on the back of your arm in order to hold your elbow in a fixed position. Usually, the splint will extend from your hand to your shoulder, so that the hand cannot turn and the elbow will not bend, possibly preventing a fracture from healing or further dislocating the elbow.

You may also require a sling so that your arm can rest. You may be asked to remove it when you are at home, and elevate your arm in order to alleviate the swelling.

In most cases, you will not be fitted with a cast. This is because casts cover the arm completely, and if there is swelling under the cast, it could damage blood vessels and nerves.

Follow Up

Some joints can be fairly “forgiving” as they heal. The elbow, however, will not forgive and could heal badly, causing you to experience discomfort down the road. So make sure to follow your doctors advice to the letter if you are diagnosed with a broken elbow, and also be sure to keep any follow up appointments that are scheduled.

If you have any specific questions, please visit one of our offices or contact us at our offices in West Bloomfield, Howell, Warren, or Macomb.

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Dr. Aroras office from my first call to schedule my appointment was friendly. Walking in the first day, I felt like I was in a nice atmosphere. Dr. Arora was EXCELLENT in taking great care of my hand injury. He was gentle and very understanding to the concerns I had about my hand. His expertise was admirable and I would recommend anyone with an injury to their hand to his office to be under his care. Because of him, I have healed faster than expected and will make an 100% recovery! Thank you Dr.

Jackie S.

I first thought I was going to have to have painful injections or surgery, but Dr. Arora suggested physical therapy may do the trick. I was doubtful, but I agreed to do it. Now, my pain is gone, and with the help of an ergonomic keyboard at work to keep my hands in the correct position, I am virtually pain free. The therapy strengthened my wrists and shoulders, and built more flexibility into my wrists.

Jerry T.

My experience with this doctor was positive from the outset. Dr. Arora was kind and spent a great deal of time with me. Staff was friendly. The office was nice and bright.

Ariel G.

Very friendly and helpful Great staff!!! Doctor Arora was very professional and did great work. I was very happy with everything!

L B.