The hand is a complex structure made up of 27 different bones. A hand fracture can occur as a result of a direct blow to the hand or a fall onto outstretched hands. The most common hand fractures include injury to the pinkie side of the palm or the thumb.
Patients with a hand fracture often experience:
- Physical deformity
- Inability to move the fingers
- Shortened fingers
- Depressed knuckle
These symptoms can vary depending on which bone in the hand is broken.
It is important for patients to seek medical attention for a hand injury, even if it appears to be minor. Function of the hand relies on the proper alignment of the bones within it, so it is important to determine whether or not those bones have been moved as a result of your injury. Your doctor can diagnose a hand fracture physically examining the motion of the hand and position of the fingers, and also by performing an x-ray exam to confirm this diagnosis.
Treatment for a hand fracture can usually be performed through nonsurgical methods that include immobilizing the broken bones in a brace or cast. Patients will be required to wear this for three to six weeks as the bones heal, and may perform hand exercises once it is removed to restore function to the hand. Surgery may be required for severe fractures in order to realign the bones, which may require the use of wires, screws or plates.
When a bone breaks, there is a chance that a small piece will displace itself a significant distance away from its original position. As the severity of the fracture increases, so does the risk of dislocation. Close proximity to a joint is also correlated with high incidence of dislocated fractures.
In some cases, the dislocated section may become lodged in another functioning area of the joint thus necessitating surgical removal. These types of complex fractures also have a much longer recovery time and higher risk of permanent stiffness or disability than uncomplicated fractures or dislocations.