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by Woods M

Definition

A hand fracture is a break in any of the 5 long bones (metacarpals) between the wrist and the fingers. A metacarpal fracture can be painful and decrease use of your hand.

Fractures of the finger bones (phalanges) can be found in Finger Fracture.

Bones in the Hand
IMAGE
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Causes

A hand fracture is caused by trauma to the long bones of the hand. Trauma includes:

  • Falls
  • Blows
  • Collisions
  • Severe twists
  • Punching another person or object, such as a wall, with a closed fist
  • Playing certain sports
  • Squeezing or crushing of the hand

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your risk of a hand fracture include:

  • Osteoporosis
  • Poor nutrition
  • Certain congenital bone conditions
  • Participation in contact sports
  • Violence

Symptoms

A hand fracture may cause:

  • Pain, often severe
  • Swelling and tenderness
  • Inability to move the hand or wrist without pain or difficulty
  • Deformity of the fracture site

Diagnosis

You will be asked about your symptoms, your medical history, and how the injury occurred. Your hand will be examined.

Diagnosis can be made by physical exam but images may be taken to determine how much damage was done. Images can be done with x-rays.

Treatment

Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Most hand fractures heal without surgery. Treatment options may include:

Initial Care

A cast or splint may be needed to protect, support, and keep the hand fracture in line while it heals.

After the bone has begun to heal, exercises or occupational therapy may be recommended to help regain strength and function.

A cast or splint may be needed to protect, support, and keep the hand fracture in line while it heals.

After the bone has begun to heal, exercises or occupational therapy may be recommended to help regain strength and function.

Surgery

More severe fractures may need surgery to realign the broken pieces. Screws, plates, or wires may be used to hold the fracture in place.

More severe fractures may need surgery to realign the broken pieces. Screws, plates, or wires may be used to hold the fracture in place.

Prevention

To help reduce your chance of getting a hand fracture, take these steps:

  • Do not put yourself at risk for trauma to the bone.
  • Always wear a seatbelt when driving or riding in a car.
  • Do weight-bearing and strengthening exercises regularly to build strong bones.
  • Wear proper padding and safety equipment when participating in sports or activities.

To help reduce falling hazards at work and home, take these steps:

  • Clean spills and slippery areas right away.
  • Remove tripping hazards such as loose cords, rugs, and clutter.
  • Use nonslip mats in the bathtub and shower.
  • Install grab bars next to the toilet and in the shower or tub.
  • Put in handrails on both sides of the stairways.
  • Walk only in well-lit rooms, stairs, and halls.
  • Keep flashlights on hand in case of a power outage.

RESOURCES

Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians  http://www.familydoctor.org 

Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons  http://www.orthoinfo.org 

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation  http://www.canorth.org 

Health Canada  http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca 

References

Broken hand. American Society for Surgery of the Hand website. Available at: http://www.assh.org/handcare/hand-arm-injuries/broken-bone. Published 2016. Accessed February 16, 2017.

Hand fractures. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00010. Accessed October 2007. Accessed February 16, 2017.

Revision Information