Broken Hand Treatment (Fractures and Dislocations Metacarpals)
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.
A fractured (broken) finger is usually the result of a trauma, such as a fall on an outstretched hand, a punch, or slamming the finger in a door. There are 14 bones in total in the fingers (phalanges) of each hand, each of which is susceptible to fracture. A broken finger typically results in pain, swelling, tenderness and bruising. Moving the injured finger may be difficult, and it may look deformed. These symptoms usually develop immediately at the time of the injury.
Signs of a Finger Fracture
It is sometimes difficult to determine whether a finger is fractured because similar symptoms may occur from other injuries. The following symptoms at the site are possible indicators of a broken bone in the finger:
- Severe, persistent pain, especially when touched
- Difficulty bending the joints
- Deformity of the finger
All of these symptoms may be the result of other problems, including infection, dislocation, or tendon injury. It is important to consult a physician for a definitive diagnosis because the treatments for these conditions vary and improper treatment may lead to permanent disability.
Diagnosis of a Finger Fracture
X-rays are necessary to determine not only whether there is a finger fracture, but the nature and severity of that fracture. The doctor must determine whether the fracture involves a joint, and, if so, whether the joint surfaces are in alignment. The X-ray will also allow the doctor to determine whether the fracture is unstable, that is, likely to slip out of its correct position. Finally, the doctor has to assess any possible deformities of the finger, such as inappropriate rotation or shortening. All of this information is important in determining how the fracture is to be treated.
Treatment of a Finger Fracture
In spite of the fact that a finger fracture appears to be, and often is, a minor injury, in some cases, improper treatment can lead to long-term dysfunction of the hand. Treatment of a finger fracture is designed not only to alleviate symptoms, but to ensure that permanent damage does not result.
In most situations, a finger fracture can be treated nonsurgically. Typically, a splint or small cast is used to keep the finger in a straightened position while it heals. Sometimes, with more minor injuries, it is possible to use an adjacent finger as a splint, a process known as “buddy taping.” Healing of a fractured finger usually takes 3 to 4 weeks.
When a broken finger is out of its normal position (dislocated), the deformity must be corrected to prevent permanent disfigurement or dysfunction. This procedure is normally performed under local anesthesia. Once the area has been completely numbed, the doctor can manipulate the finger to correct its position. If the deformity is severe, however, surgery may be necessary. During the surgical procedure, the broken bones are realigned, fixed in place with surgical hardware. After surgery, a cast is used to keep the bones immobilized as they heal.