Hand Fractures

(Broken Hand)

Believe it or not, there are 19 bones in each of your hands and 8 in each wrist, not including those big long forearm bones.  These bones and the joints between them provide protection and support for the many tendons, muscles, nerves, blood vessels and ligaments that work together to make your hands function so well!


When a significant force is applied to your bone, it can break (or fracture, which is the technical term for “break!”).  This causes pain, stiffness, bruising, or even bleeding if there is a break in the skin.  Sometimes you will see a deformity (your finger might look crooked). 


Metacarpal FractureTreatment of hand fractures depends on your age, what bone is broken and where/how in that bone, whether your fingers are malrotated or “scissoring” over each other, and other factors.  Your hand doctor can examine you and your X-rays to determine whether the fracture needs to be reduced (or “set”) and whether it can be treated in a splint/cast or might need surgery.


Once your doctor considers your fracture “stable” enough, you might be sent for hand therapy to start motion.  Early motion helps prevent stiffness, but there always is a balance between early motion and stability of the fracture.


A few other things to note about fractures:

You don’t necessarily need perfect X-ray alignment to get great function.


Some people might get a “bump” at the fracture area during healing; this is part of the bone healing process and likely will resolve at least somewhat with time.


Smoking dramatically affects bone healing.  If you have a fracture and ever have considered quitting smoking, this would be a good time!