A hand fracture is a break in one of the bones in the hand. The bones in your hand include phalanges, which are the small bones that form the thumb and fingers, and the metacarpals, the five bones located in the hand’s palm. This type of injury occurs when force is applied to the bone, either along the shaft or near the surface of a joint. In most cases, a hand fracture can be treated with nonsurgical treatment. However, severe fractures may require surgery to realign the broken pieces of the affected bone or bones.
Causes and Risk Factors of Hand Fractures
A hand fracture can be caused by a fall, crush injury, twisting injury, improper use of tools or equipment, or through direct contact in sports. The most common hand fracture is a boxer’s fracture, a fracture of the fifth metacarpal, which is the bone that supports the little finger. A boxer’s fracture is caused by punching or striking a hard object with a closed a fist.
Symptoms of Hand Fractures
Symptoms of a hand fracture will vary depending on the location and severity of the fracture. Common signs and symptoms include:
- Tenderness or pain
- Numbness in your hand or fingers
- Stiffness or inability to move your fingers or thumb
How is a Hand Fracture Diagnosed?
If you suspect that your hand is broken, your doctor will conduct a physical examination for deformity, mobility, and strength. Imaging tests such as an X-ray can be used to determine if a bone is broken, and identify the location and extent of the fracture. . If a fracture is seen in one of the bones of the hand, your doctor will recommend the best treatment plan based on your individual situation.
Treatment Options for Hand Fractures
In some cases, your doctor can realign the bone fragments by gently manipulating them back into place without making an incision. This is known as a closed reduction. A cast, splint, or brace may be applied to the bone in order to aid the healing process. Depending on the location and stability of the fracture, you may need to wear the cast for 3 to 6 weeks. Some types of fractures can be protected by wearing a removable splint or by being “buddy strapped” to an adjacent non-injured finger for support. After about 3 weeks, you can begin hand exercises for rehabilitation.
More serious hand fractures, such as open fractures where pieces of bone have broken through the skin, may require surgery to be treated. During surgery, your doctor will make an incision to reposition bone fragments and use small metal devices – wires, plates, screws, pins, and staples – to hold the pieces of fractured bone in place. After the procedure, you will likely have to wear a cast or splint for a period of time to avoid further injury and ensure a full recovery. Discuss with your doctor when it is safe to begin range-of-motion exercises and resume normal activities.
Care for Hand Fractures at Raleigh Orthopaedic Clinic
At Raleigh Orthopaedic Clinic, our board-certified orthopedic doctors and hand and wrist surgeons have years of experience diagnosing and treating a wide range of musculoskeletal conditions and injuries, including hand fractures. We are committed to providing the highest quality care for patients in Wake County, ensuring that all of your needs are addressed and questions answered. For more information about our services or to schedule an appointment at one of our convenient office locations, please contact us today.