A scaphoid fracture is a break that occurs in one of the small bones (carpal bones) of your wrist. It is usually a result of a fall where you land on your hand.
The eight carpal bones are laid out in rows between the forearm bones and the finger bones, forming the wrist. Each of the eight bones of your wrist has a name, and the scaphoid is the larger carpal bone that is located between the base of your thumb and the bottom of the radius bone – which is the large bone in the forearm.
It is the location of the scaphoid that makes it prone to injury. One early sign of injury to this bone is a feeling of pain and tenderness in the thumb area. If you’re not entirely sure, try grasping something – does it hurt? If it does, then you likely have a scaphoid fracture.
What Causes a Broken Wrist?
A scaphoid fracture is a type of wrist break that is almost always a result of falling with your hand stretched out. In an effort to break your fall, you have put all of your weight on your palm – and the impact also becomes distributed to the wrist. The force of the impact can break the bones in your wrist and forearm.
Other common causes of a broken scaphoid include sports and car accidents. Anything that causes a sudden impact on your thumb or wrist area can cause a broken scaphoid bone.
Types of Scaphoid Fractures
The type of scaphoid fracture you have depends on how severe the displacement is. A non-displaced fracture is one where the bone fragments are still aligned correctly.
A displaced fracture is one where the bone fragments are moved out of their normal placement. This is a severe type of scaphoid fracture where bone fragments may overlap or have gaps in between.
Symptoms of a Scaphoid Fracture
A scaphoid fracture is usually accompanied by pain, swelling, and bruising. The signs and symptoms may appear immediately or days after the injury.
Due to the fact that scaphoid fractures do not produce visible bone deformity, many people with this type of injury may dismiss it as a wrist sprain or strain. Only a doctor can accurately diagnose a scaphoid fracture, and this is usually done with an X-ray, CT scan, or MRI scan.
If you suspect that you have sustained a wrist injury, visit an orthopedic doctor to have it examined. Delaying treatment can lead to permanent injuries and lifelong pain.
Treatment for a Fractured Wrist
Treatment for non-displaced scaphoid injuries usually involves placing a thumb cast or brace over the affected area, but a displaced break may require surgery. Complete healing varies from person to person, but many patients have reported full healing in just a little over a month.
Scaphoid injury treatment also includes hand therapy to help manage pain and swelling. Physical therapy helps to restore strength and normal range of motion to the thumb and wrist area.
Wrist Doctors in Tennessee
Scaphoid fractures can affect people of all ages. Even children can fracture their scaphoid. While there are no known risk factors for this type of injury, people who engage in sports and extreme recreational activities are advised to wear protective wrist guards to prevent scaphoid injuries.
At Watauga Orthopaedics, our team of orthopedic surgeons and hand specialists provide comprehensive hand and wrist care to our patients. We diagnose and treat all types of hand and wrist conditions.
If you sustained an injury to your hand or wrist, please call us at (423) 282-9011 or schedule an appointment online now. We look forward to seeing you!