At the beginning of the movie, Stephen Strange loses most of the mobility in his hands, prompting him to seek out treatments and eventually culminating with his finding Kamar-Taj where he becomes a superhero.

After Strange really starts beating up bad guys, etc., we don't really see much of Strange's hands (presumably showing his real, psychological healing: he's stopped obsessing about his hands). I seem to remember that he regains some more use of them over time, but it's never shown him regaining their use fully.

Does he ever regain full use of his hands? If so, how? Magic or mundane?

  • 51
    You misunderstand...he didn't lose all control of his hands...just enough to disqualify him as a surgeon. That's what he wanted to get back.
    – Paulie_D
    Commented May 24, 2018 at 20:03
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    @Paulie_D - Yeah, they won't let you cut on peoples brains and spinal cords if your hands shake.
    – Radhil
    Commented May 24, 2018 at 20:08
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    In the comics -- I believe it was an issue of the Defenders (early 1980s?) -- Dr. Strange actually does perform a life-saving operation. I don't remember on whom (probably another one of the Defenders). But it's very clear that it's touch and go and he only consents to do it because there's no other option.
    – David
    Commented May 25, 2018 at 12:00

6 Answers 6


He had nerve damage on his hands, and thus had lost the fine motor control needed to perform brain surgery. That does not mean he could not use his hands for daily things. He did email people, for example.

In a deleted scene, not long before meeting the Ancient One, he treated this dog's broken paw:

You are the wizard now dog

During training, we see him using this hands quite nimbly - for example, when stealing books from the library while Wong listens to All the Single Ladies.

All the Single Ladies

He spars with Mordo at one point. Midway through the movie he manages to operate the Eye of Agamotto, whose user interface is a bastard crossing of a Nintendo Power Glove and a safe dial.

As for the healing method proper, the Ancient One's introductory speech to Strange was all about it - there are many methods of healing other than modern western medicine. She shows him drawings of chakras as detailed in yoga and other Hindi practices, and if I recall well also a diagram of acupuncture points. Strange probably learned and was subjected to a combination of such practices as those and reiki, qi gong, etc., plus whatever alternative medicine practices exist only in the Marvel universes.

P.s.: more as a curiosity... In the comics, Strange has been in situations in which his magical powers were negated. In The Oath, Strange and one of his foes use a spell to completely negate all their magical powers, and then they have a fistfight. The fight makes it clear that, no matter how damaged Strange's hands are - if they are still damaged - he can still use them competently, even without magic. This has not been shown in the MCU, but the movies would probably follow along this should Strange ever be depicted in a situation where he cannot use any magic.

  • 26
    Is the scene with the dog from a deleted scene? I don't recall seeing it.
    – Rogue Jedi
    Commented May 25, 2018 at 2:24
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    @RogueJedi Looks like you're right: cinemablend.com/news/1622690/… Commented May 25, 2018 at 4:05
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    What the... I swear I saw that scene in the cinema! It was not cut in my country, it seems.
    – Marvel Boy
    Commented May 25, 2018 at 4:51
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    I don't think the "chakra" scene tried to imply that those alternatives are better - just that they were other attempts by people to understand some underlying truths. Presumably, those techniques wouldn't have been effective, but the deeper understanding of the Ancient One would be something quite different. All the approaches found grains of truth, and she suggests something more that found bigger grains at least. Or even just suggests that perhaps Strange himself should apply himself that way - try and find the underlying truths, rather than being blinded by the partial successes.
    – Luaan
    Commented May 25, 2018 at 12:36
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    'a bastard crossing of a Nintendo Power Glove and a safe dial'...
    – ASH-Aisyah
    Commented May 25, 2018 at 13:40

I seem to remember that he regains some more use of them over time, but it's never shown him regaining their use fully. Does he ever regain full use of his hands?

Yes...and No

His hands heal enough for a normal person and for him to be be able to make whatever mystical gestures are required...but...

...not enough to be a surgeon again

Certainly he could...the Ancient One says as much..

DS: So, I could have my hands back again? My old life?

AO: You could. And the world would be all the lesser for it.

...but it would require the world to suffer for it.

Eventually, Strange decides not to do it but will carry the burden of being a sorcerer instead and defend the world.

DS: You said that losing my hands didn't have to be the end, that it could be a beginning.

Dr Palmer: - Yeah. Because there are other ways to save lives.

DS: A harder way.

Dr Palmer: A weirder way.


I think you're missing a couple of key points from the movie.

  1. The man who regained the use of his legs (Jonathan Pangborn) never actually healed his injury. Instead, we're told he learned enough Astral Magic to make his legs work again and quit there. In a bonus scene, we see Pangborn attacked by Mordo for that reason (after Mordo robs him of his power, Pangborn is left crippled again).
  2. The final scene of the movie shows Strange looking at his hands, which are still shaking

While he was able to rehab his hands to functionality, Astral power could not stop the shaking.


He is constantly using magic to keep them working. If his magic were taken from him like the man in the end credits scene, his hands would be messed up again.

  • 1
    Is there a source for that information? I watched the movie and I don't remember him having to resort to magic to control his hands.
    – Marvel Boy
    Commented May 24, 2018 at 20:53
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    @Renan - While it is not explicitly said in that fashion, it's implied with his conversations with the guy who learned to walk again, who couldn't after his magic was taken away. The implication being that Dr. Strange does the same thing with his hands that the other guy did with his legs.
    – JohnP
    Commented May 25, 2018 at 19:50

It may have symbolized his choice. He COULD have healed them and returned to being a surgeon, with riches and fame but he chose to put others before himself. Looking at his hands at the end of the movie and they were still shaking, he didn't get what he was wanting but he BECAME more than he was.

  • 1
    A shot of his hands shaking would improve this answer
    – Valorum
    Commented Aug 26, 2018 at 7:08

I believe it is safe to assume that he was able to heal his hands enough to be useable thanks to magic, though it is never stated how or when.

We know an almost complete healing of limbs by magic is possible: Pangborn, the man who directed Strange to Kamar Taj, had lost the use of his legs on relatively the same level as Strange had lost the use of his hands. Yet when Strange first meets the man, he is playing a game of basketball with no signs of physical weakness. We also see that Strange does regain full if not near full use of his hands. He can make hand signals without pain, he can pick things up and hold them. While during his rehabilitation earlier in the film we are shown that he has trouble even making a fist.

Though this healing seems to come with one caveat namely

When Mordo takes Pangborn's powers at the end credit scene his legs revert to their paralyzed state. Thus while we can assume the healing was done we cannot assume that it was a permanent one.

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    As I understand it, he doesn't actually heal himself as you're thinking. What he does (without realizing it) is use his power instead of his normal physiological constructs (nerves), so when that is removed he reverts.
    – JohnP
    Commented May 24, 2018 at 20:58

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