ALERTS & COVID-19 UPDATES Learn more: COVID-19 Resources; COVID-19 Testing; Vaccine Info; Visitor Policy; Support Us

Lahey Health is now part of Beth Israel Lahey Health

by EBSCO Medical Review Board
(Metacarpal Fracture)

Definition

A hand fracture is a break in any of the five long bones (metacarpals) between the wrist and the fingers.

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

Bones in the Hand
IMAGE
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes

This problem is caused by trauma to the long bones of the hand from:

  • Falls
  • Blows
  • Twists
  • Punching a person or object with a closed fist
  • Playing certain sports
  • Squeezing or crushing of the hand

Risk Factors

The risk of this problem is higher in people who have:

  • Osteoporosis
  • Poor nutrition
  • Bone problems that started at birth
  • Been playing contact sports
  • Violent behavior around them

Symptoms

This problem may cause:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Problems moving the hand
  • Changes in the way the hand looks

Diagnosis

You will be asked about your symptoms, health history, and how the injury happened. An exam will be done. It will focus on the hand. This is often enough to make the diagnosis.

Images may be taken to find out how much harm was done. This can be done with x-rays.

Treatment

It may take 6 to 8 weeks to heal. The goals of treatment are to ease pain and swelling. Medicine can help. Other options are:

  • A splint, brace, cast to keep the bone in line as it heals
  • Exercises to help with strength, flexibility, and range of motion

Children's bones have growth plates that let bones grow and harden with age. A child with a fracture may need to be checked over time to make sure the bone heals the right way and keeps growing.

Putting Bones Back in Place

Some fractures cause pieces of bone to come apart. These pieces will need to be put back into place. This may be done:

  • Without surgery—anesthesia will be used to ease pain while the doctor moves the pieces back into place
  • With surgery—pins, screws, plates, or a rod may be needed to reconnect the pieces and hold them in place

Prevention

To lower the risk of this type of fracture:

  • Wear safety equipment when playing sports or doing activities.
  • Always wear a seat belt when driving or riding in a motor vehicle.
  • Do weight-bearing and strengthening exercises to build strong bones.
  • Do not put yourself at risk for trauma to the bone.

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  https://www.canada.ca 

References

Broken hand. HandCare—American Society for Surgery of the Hand website. Available at: https://www.assh.org/handcare/condition/broken-hand. Accessed July 29, 2021.

Hand fractures. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/hand-fractures. Accessed July 29, 2021.

Metacarpal fractures. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/metacarpal-fractures. Accessed July 29, 2021.

Revision Information