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Hand Fractures

What is a hand fracture?


Updated May 16, 2014

A hand fracture occurs when one of the small bones of the hand is broken. There are several small bones that together make up the supporting framework of the hand.

How does a hand fracture occur?
Most hand fractures occur as a result of direct trauma to the hand. Commonly an object either falls on the hand or the hand strikes an object. When he hand fracture occurs common symptoms include:

    • Pain
    • Swelling
    • A palpable deformity
    • Difficulty moving the fingers
What tests are needed to diagnose a hand fracture?
If a hand fracture is suspected, your doctor will obtain x-ray studies to determine if the bone is broken. If a fracture is seen in one of the bones of the hand a decision will be made to determine appropriate treatment for the injury.

What treatments are used for hand fractures?
Possible treatments of hand fractures include:

    Cast & Splints
    If the fracture is not displaced (meaning it is in proper position) a cast or splint will likely be sufficient for treatment of the fracture. Furthermore, there are some types of hand fractures that do not necessarily need to be in perfect position in order to heal properly. These fractures may also be casted or splinted and allowed to heal.

    Small metal pins may be inserted through this skin in order to hold the bones in a better position. This procedure is usually done with the patient under general anesthesia, but may also be done with a local anesthesia block. The metal pins remain in place for several weeks while the fracture heals, and then the pins can usually be removed in the office.

    Metal Plates & Screws
    In some unusual types of hand fractures further treatment may be necessary. In knees cases, metal screws with either a plate or an external fixator can be used to help maintain proper alignment of the bones.

What problems may I encounter if I sustain a hand fracture?
Most hand fractures will heal uneventfully. The two most common problems patients who sustain a hand fracture will face are stiffness of the fingers any noticeable bump. The bump is usually a result of extra bone the body forms as part of the healing process. While the bump does diminish in size over time it may never completely go away. Finger stiffness is prevented by beginning motion as soon as possible. It is sometimes necessary to work with a specialized hand therapist in order to help regain finger motion.
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