Daniel Birkbeck, M.D., (left) and Physician Assistant Joe Mashinchi marvel at the intricacies of the human hand, and love the challenges they face when repairing them.

Surgeon Says: Best Job, Hands Down

Ever tried to button a shirt or turn a door knob without using your thumb? It’s nearly impossible, because more than 80 percent of what you do with your hands requires the use of a thumb, according to Daniel Birkbeck, M.D., Orthopedic Surgeon for NorthBay Health. And if you have a problem with your thumb, wrist, forearm or even the elbow, you’ll likely see Dr. Birkbeck for treatment, as he not only specializes in these areas but is a master at repairing even the most challenging hand injuries.

“The hand is really a marvelous piece of anatomy,” he explained. “Hands are so complex, and to treat them you need experience in a lot of areas: orthopedics for bone, plastic surgery for skin, neurosurgery for nerves, vascular with the blood vessels, and even dermatology and oncology for cancer — everything. I love all of it, from the elbow on down, and I especially love the most challenging cases involving the hands.”

“The hand is really a marvelous piece of anatomy. Hands are so complex, and to treat them you need experience in a lot of areas.”

Daniel Birkbeck, M.D., Orthopedic Surgeon

Dr. Birkbeck is usually the one to be called upon to treat patients who have suffered trauma to their hands, but he’s also happy to help patients with all kinds of hand issues, including carpal tunnel syndrome and trigger finger.

Dr. Birkbeck works in tandem with Joe Mashinchi, Physician Assistant, who is, no pun intended, Dr. Birkbeck’s right hand. “We are a true team,” Dr. Birkbeck said. “I trust him implicitly and have all the faith in the world in him.”

As a physician assistant, Joe’s job is to see patients in clinic five days a week. “I have more availability and can spend more time with patients,” he explained. “I see them for post-operative follow-up, conduct new patient evaluations, schedule surgery and provide continued management of previously identified orthopedic conditions. I also serve as first assist in surgery,” he explained.

“Most people will have a hand or wrist problem at some point in their life, either through an injury, overuse or arthritis,” Dr. Birkbeck said. “People may feel their situation is debilitating or hopeless. I get tremendous satisfaction from helping them to get better.”

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