Fractures of the Thumb, Finger, Hand or Wrist Bone

What are fractures of the thumb, finger, hand or wrist bone?

Fractures are broken bones and can occur in any places on the hand and wrist.

A broken thumb is a serious problem if it affects your ability to grasp items in your hand, and may increase your risk of arthritis later in life. The most serious breaks occur at the base of the thumb near the wrist, since these are more difficult to treat and may require surgery.

A finger fracture may not seem serious, but it is important that the bones in your hand line up properly in order to perform specialized functions like grasping a pen or manipulating small objects in your palm. A finger fracture can put your whole hand out of alignment.

Hand bones can break in many places, but near the knuckle, mid-bone, or near the wrist are most common. They can also occur along the fifth bone that leads to your little finger, known as "the boxer’s fracture."

Types of wrist fractures

There are a few types of wrist fractures:

  • When you fall on your outstretched hand, the bone that is broken is usually the radius, and the section of the radius near the wrist is called the distal end. A break here is often referred to as a distal radius fracture, a very common fracture that happens when you fall on your outstretched hands, or in car, bike and skiing accidents.
  • When the other bone in the arm called the ulna is broken, it is called a distal ulna fracture.
  • The other type of wrist fracture is called the scaphoid fracture, named for one of the small bones in the wrist that comprise the carpal bones. The scaphoid is located on the thumb side of the wrist, in the area where the wrist bends. When you hold your thumb in a “hitchhiking” position, the scaphoid is at the base of the depression made by your thumb tendons. Pain or tenderness here indicates the scaphoid is injured. This type of fracture also occurs when you fall on your outstretched hands, with your weight landing on your palms.

In general, the symptoms of fractures include pain, swelling, a misshapen or deformed look, limited or inability to move the finger, thumb or wrist, numbness.

There are many nonsurgical treatment options, but surgery may be required to align and secure bones.


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Wrist Fracture Repair

Sometimes there are small fragments of bone that stay within the joint after a bone breaks, and these need to be removed, or the bones may need to be aligned and stabilized with pins, wires or screws.

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The procedure involves surgical removal of damaged bones and replacement with artificial (prosthetic) wrist parts made of plastic and metal, which restore movement to the wrist and can help relieve pain.


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