Fractures of the Hand
A fractured hand occurs when there is a crack or break in one or more of the bones in your hand. A fractured hand can be a minor or major injury depending on what part of the bone is broken. No matter the severity of your fractured hand, you will experience pain, discomfort, and limited use of your hand. In this article you will learn about the causes and symptoms of a fractured hand, and how a broken hand is diagnosed and treated.
What causes a broken hand?
A broken hand can be caused by a direct blow or from being crushed. Some other causes for broken hands include falling or twisting injuries. In general, anything that puts significant stress or pressure on your hands can result in a fractured hand. For example, getting into a motor vehicle accident or playing intense, high-contact sports, like football, can cause you to break your hand.
What are the symptoms of a broken hand?
Even though there are many types of hand fractures, like a boxer’s fracture or Colles fracture, the symptoms are generally the same and very similar.
- Pain and tenderness
- Loss in range of motion and stiffness in your fingers or thumb
- Obvious deformity
- Numbness in your hand or fingers
- Pain that increases when moving or gripping
Like any type of injury, there are some risk factors that increase your chances of injuring your hand.
- Sports. If you participate in sports like football, hockey, soccer, boxing, or rugby, you are at higher risk of breaking your hand. In general, athletes are more likely to get injured because they are constantly training. If you are an athlete, is always a good idea to know the signs and symptoms of common sports-related injuries so that you can recognize the early signs and prevent injury.
- Gender. Sometimes gender can play a role in increasing your risk factor for specific injuries. For instance, men are more likely to experience a boxer’s fracture. A boxer’s fracture, also called a fifth metacarpal fracture, happens when you break a bone at the base of your finger, near your knuckle.
- Osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a condition that weakens the bones. If your bones are weaker than normal, then you have an increased chance of breaking your hand.
- Age. As you age, your bones become weaker, resulting in an increased chance of injuring yourself. In addition, as you age, you are more prone to accidents, like falling, which can cause you to fracture your hand or injure other parts of your body.
How is a fractured hand diagnosed?
If you think that you have fractured your hand or suffer from any of the symptoms listed above, make sure to see your doctor so that they can properly examine your injury.
- Physical examination. Your doctor will carefully examine your hand and fingers and look for the following: bruising and swelling, deformity, discoloration, overlapping fingers, cuts or lacerations, numbness, joint stability, and range of motion.
- Medical history. If you have previously injured your hand before or have a medical condition that increases your likelihood of fracturing your hand, it is important to let your doctor know. For instance, if you have already injured that specific hand, you are likely to re-injure it.
- X-ray. Your doctor will order an X-ray so that they can get a better visual of your bones and what is going on inside of your hand. An X-ray can also give your doctor a better idea of how severe your injury is.
How is a fractured hand treated?
Once your doctor confirms that you have a fractured hand, there are a few different treatments that your doctor will recommend. These treatments can typically be classified into two types: nonsurgical and surgical treatments.
- Nonsurgical treatment. If the broken ends of the bones are not aligned correctly, you might have gaps or overlapping. In order to fix this issue, your doctor will need to move the pieces back into correct alignment. This procedure is called a reduction. Your doctor might also give you a splint or cast to wear in order to restrict movement, which will promote proper healing. Once you can remove the cast or splint, you will most likely need to attend physical therapy in order to regain your strength and range of motion in that hand. You might also be prescribed over-the-counter pain medication to help with pain management.
- Surgical treatment. If your broken hand is severe, you might need surgery to put pins, plates, screws, or rods to hold your bones in place to heal properly. You might require surgery if you have the following: fractures that go into the joint, an open fracture, damaged ligaments, nerves, or blood vessels, or a loose bone fragment that could damage your joint.
Treating a fractured hand at Midwest Orthopaedic Consultants
A fractured hand is a painful condition that needs to be treated quickly and efficiently. At Midwest Orthopaedic Consultants, we understand how stressful and frustrating it can be to not be able to do the everyday tasks that you usually do with your hands. Here, we have an amazing group of specialists that will give you the high-quality treatment that you deserve in order to get back to your normal everyday activities.
If you are suffering from symptoms of a broken hand or are recovering from a fractured hand, contact us today to book an appointment!