September 19, 2022

Meet Charles Goldfarb, MD

Hand & Congenital Difference Specialist 

Dr. Goldfarb specializes in the evaluation and treatment of all conditions related to the hand, wrist, forearm, elbow and finger conditions, including sports-related injuries, work-related injuries, degenerative and rheumatoid arthritis conditions, nerve compression syndromes, and traumatic reconstruction.

He cares for patients of all ages, but is particularly committed to the care of children with birth and acquired problems of the upper extremity. This includes birth anomalies, difficulties related to trauma, and acquired conditions of any type including tumors.

Learn more about Dr. Goldfarb's practice by listening to The Upper Hand Podcast.

Where are you from? 

I grew up in Birmingham, Alabama and my entire family is still there. While I didn’t bring a southern accent to St Louis, I did bring my love for Alabama football.

What made you choose orthopedics and hand surgery as a specialty?

My father is a head and neck surgeon and I grew up appreciating medicine and surgery. During medical school anatomy, the anatomy of the hand and wrist appealed to me most. Orthopedic surgery is such a great field because we can help patients through specific injuries and also address more chronic problems like arthritis. And while much of hand surgery is treating patients through a short episode, congenital hand surgery allows a longer term relationship with families.

What brought you to Washington University Orthopedics?

I came to Saint Louis in 1996 and my wife Talia and I thought we'd be here for five years for residency. We left for a hand fellowship in Cincinnati and considered a number of academic opportunities on the east coast.  Ultimately, we returned to Saint Louis as it had become home and Washington University Orthopedics was a great fit. The department has provided me with so many opportunities in patient care, research, and leadership.

What aspect of your practice do you find most interesting or rewarding?

My practice as a hand surgeon has three parts. I take care of kids with injuries or born with upper extremity anomalies such as missing digits- caring for these kids and their families is remarkably rewarding. The second part of my practice is sports injuries of the upper extremity which begins with the young athlete and continues through college and professional sports. I like the challenge of getting athletes safely back to play as quickly as possible and also enjoy the sports procedures such as arthroscopy of the elbow, wrist, and hand. The final part of my practice includes common problems of the hand and wrist such as arthritis and nerve compression.

Was there a past patient who made a lasting impact on you?

Perhaps the most notable surgery was one performed early in my career on a child from Guatemala born with three arms. We combined the best parts of each of the arm on his left side to create a more normal arm. He lives in Saint Louis and I'm able to see him intermittently and it's been fun to watch him grow into a remarkable person. 

Anything new on the horizon for upper extremity care?

I believe our field makes regular, incremental progress. Care continues to improve and there are new technique and diagnostic tools regularly introduced. Ultimately, in the field of congenital differences, I believe it will be genetics that makes the most difference in understanding of limb differences and providing the best care for them. 

What is the best advice you ever received and who was it from? 

Nelson Mandela: “I never lose. I either win or learn.”

Samual Ullman from the poem Youth (my great-great grandfather): “ Youth is not a time of life, it is a state of mind.”

What is your favorite thing to do outside of work? 

I am fortunate to have a remarkable family and spending time with them is definitely my favorite pastime. While only one of my kids is still at home for another year, visiting and staying in close contact/ traveling with the others is incredibly fun. Talking about their paths and the future that lies ahead is so rewarding. Of course, watching sports, in particular basketball, is really great as well.

If you weren't a physician, what would you like to be doing?

That’s easy. I would be a high school history teacher. I love everything about history especially reading great books and talking about history. Part of me still holds out hope that this could be part of my future.

Learn why patient's choose Washington University Orthopedicsrequest an appointment online or call (314) 514-3500.

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