Hand fractures are common and may result in permanent disability if left untreated. If you think about it, your hands are among the most common parts of your body you use, so it's not surprising that they're more prone to injury compared to other parts of your body. Your hands have 27 bones in them that allow your hands to function properly, which means each hand has quite a few bones vulnerable to breakage and other injuries over time.
As with many other types of fractures, hand fractures vary depending on the nature or cause of the fracture. Some fractures may involve breaks in the metacarpal bones, while some may involve the phalanges. No matter what type of hand fracture you sustain, it's important to note that symptoms vary from person to person and are typically diagnosed with CT scans, X-rays, and MRIs.
Causes of Hand Fracture
There are many ways you can sustain a hand fracture, including having a health condition that weakens your bones. Some common causes behind hand fractures include the following:
- Sports injuries
- Vehicle accidents
- Work-related injuries
Conditions responsible for weakened bones, leaving them vulnerable to fractures, include the following:
- Vitamin or calcium deficiency
Symptoms of Hand Fracture
If you have a hand fracture, the chances are you're experiencing severe, sharp pain in your fingers, and may even have trouble moving them properly. In many cases, your hand may even swell. If your fracture is severe enough, you may experience numbness or weakness from damaged nerves.
Diagnosis of Hand Fracture
If you think you have a hand fracture, visit your doctor for a proper diagnosis. During your appointment, your doctor will run through your medical history and any prior hand injuries. From there, he or she will closely examine your hand for visible signs of fracture. A visual inspection also helps your doctor detect damage to your blood vessels, tendons, and nerves. In most cases, your doctor will also order imaging tests to get a better look at the soft tissues and bones in your hands. Some of these tests include the following:
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Computed tomography (CT)
Treatment of Hand Fracture
If you're diagnosed with a hand fracture, your doctor will run through your treatment options. Depending on the severity of your fracture, your treatment plan may or may not involve surgical options. In most cases, treatment for hand fractures includes the following:
Non-Surgical Treatment: This option involves casts, splints, painkillers, ice pads, and rest. The goal is to keep the wounded hand immobilized and any swelling down.
Surgical Treatment: There are a few different surgical options available when treating certain types of hand fractures. Hand fractures that may require surgery include:
- Open fractures
- Fractures affecting the joints of your hand
- Fractures resulting in displaced broken bones
- Fractures resulting in damaged soft tissues
- Multiple fractures
After a surgical procedure, your doctor may immobilize your hand in a cast or splint to help it heal. Additionally, your doctor may recommend physical therapy to help ensure your joints and muscles don't become stiff and that you eventually regain full use of your hand.
Prognosis of Hand Fracture
With the proper diagnosis and treatment, most patients with hand fractures make successful recoveries and eventually regain full function of their hands.