What is a scaphoid fracture?

Hand-Xray

A scaphoid fracture is a break in one of the small bones in your hand and is generally caused by falling on your outstretched hand. Signs of a scaphoid fracture include pain below the base of the thumb.

The wrist is formed by the two bones in your forearm, the radius and the ulna, and eight carpal bones at the base of your hand. The scaphoid bone is on the thumb side of your wrist and is important for motion and stability in your wrist.

Scaphoid fractures can happen in people of all ages and can cause pain and swelling on the thumb side of your wrist. Sometimes a scaphoid fracture can be mistaken for a wrist sprain because the pain may not be overly severe. If the pain in your wrist does not go away within a day, that may be a sign of a fracture, so plan on scheduling an appointment with your doctor.

Your doctor will ask questions about your symptoms, how it happened, and your overall health. X-rays, MRI’s or CT scans may be done to help further diagnose the extent of the fracture. Swelling, bruising, and loss of motion are all things your doctor will look for during your examination.

A number of factors will go into determining your treatment, such as the location of the break, if the bone fragments are displaced, and how long ago the injury occurred. Nonsurgical treatment generally includes some type of cast or splint.

Surgical treatment may be required if your scaphoid is broken at the wrist or proximal pole. The purpose of surgery is to realign your fracture and help provide stability.

Scaphoid fractures heal rather slowly and a cast may have to be worn for up to six months post-surgery and even for nonsurgical treatment.

During this time you should avoid:

  • Lifting anything more than a pound
  • Contact sports
  • Heavy machinery
  • Participating in activities that may risk you falling on your hand

After surgery your doctor will refer you to a trained hand therapist to help you regain as much of your range of motion and wrist strength as possible.

As with any procedure it’s important that you follow your doctor’s recommendations to ensure the best recovery and treatment.

To learn more or schedule an appointment with our hand and wrist specialists, please visit http://www.neorthohospital.com.

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What is a scaphoid fracture?

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