Hand fractures can occur in any of the 27 bones in the hand.  Fractures of the hand can occur as a result of a twisting injury, a fall, a crush injury, or direct contact in sports, vehicle or other accidents.  Read on to learn more about the anatomy of the hand, and the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of hand fractures

HandHand anatomy

The hand contains numerous bones, any of which can suffer fracture in an accident.

Moving from the wrist towards the finger tips, the hand is made of the following bones:

  • Carpals
  • Metacarpals
  • Proximal phalanges
  • Intermediate phalanges
  • And distal phalanges.

Symptoms of Hand Fracture

Signs and symptoms of one or move broken bones in the hand may include:

  • Tenderness
  • Pain
  • Deformity
  • Swelling
  • Shortened finger(s)
  • Inability or reduced ability to move finger
  • One finger crossing over another when patient makes a fist
  • Depressed knuckle(s) (often seen in a “boxer’s fracture of the 5th metacarpal in the pinky finger)

Diagnosis of Hand Fracture

To diagnose a hand fracture, a doctor—often an orthpedical specialist—will conduct a physical examination to check the position of the fingers, skin condition, range of motion ability, and sensory ability of the fingers to determine if any never damage has occurred.  X-rays and other diagnostic tests can help a doctor to determine the exact nature and extent of the fracture.

Treatment of Hand Fractures

Broken bones in the hand can be treated with surgical and non-surgical methods.

In most cases, the bones of the hand can be realigned with non-surgical manipulation.  In such cases, a splint, fracture-brace, or cast will be used to immobilize the fracture and keep the injured bones in proper positioning.

Repeat x-rays will usually be taken following such immobilization to ensure that the bones are healing properly.  A cast or other type of immobilization device is usually worn for 3 to 6 weeks.  Hand exercises may be recommended to rehabilitate the injury site.

In some more serious cases, surgery may be required to help stabilize and re-align the bones.  Compound fractures, open fractures, which involve the bone breaking the skin, and bone crush injuries are more likely to require surgery.   During surgery, the placement of plates, wires or screws may be required to hold the fractured parts of the bone in place for proper healing.

A doctor will often periodically examine the hand to make sure the joint doesn’t tighten or contract during healing.  However, joint stiffness is a common occurrence during the healing process.

Exercises can be used to help reduce stiffness, restore strength, and increase range of motion.  In some cases, these exercises will be performed under the guidance of a physical therapist.

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