What Does It Mean to Have a Scaphoid Fracture?

What Does It Mean to Have a Scaphoid Fracture?

by Alex Hirsch (SU)

A scaphoid fracture is a common wrist injury, and it usually results from a fall onto an outstretched hand. It can happen during a sports activity or simply when you slip and fall.

Scaphoid fractures affect the scaphoid bone, which is one of the eight small bones in the wrist – also called the carpal bones – and this particular bone is adjacent to the thumb. These bones enable the complex movement of the fingers, hand, and wrist.

A broken wrist bone can take a long time to heal, so it is essential to get the appropriate treatment. Let’s talk about the types of scaphoid fractures and the ways in which they can be treated.

Classification of Scaphoid Fracture

There are two general classifications for scaphoid fractures: displaced and non-displaced:

Displaced Fracture

This occurs when the sections of a broken bone shift out of position. It is the type of fracture that has the most difficulty healing properly. If your scaphoid bone isn’t healing through cast treatment (immobilization), surgery may be recommended.

Non-Displaced Fracture

This simple type of fracture occurs when your bone fragments don't shift out of position after a break. The scaphoid fracture may not be visible on an initial X-ray scan, so the best way to treat it is through immobilization.

Scaphoid Fracture Diagnosis

If you break a fall with your hand, and your hand has been in pain ever since, consult a doctor if the pain does not disappear within a day.

The physician will ask you whether you’re experiencing pain on the thumb side of the wrist or having difficulty in gripping objects. A deformed hand or swelling around the thumb and wrist are visible signs of a broken wrist bone.

Because an X-ray may not reveal a scaphoid fracture right after the injury occurred, your physician will likely order repeated X-rays within two weeks. The doctor may also check for other causes through anemia, infection, and diabetes tests.

Treatment for a Broken Wrist

There are several factors your doctor will consider when determining proper treatment for a broken wrist. The physician will analyze the location and type of fracture in the bone, and treatment will be based on those factors.

Non-Surgical Treatment

This treatment involves the use of a cast for immobilization of the wrist. The cast typically covers your forearm, wrist, and thumb, and the cast will keep your scaphoid bone fragments in place as they heal back together.

This treatment usually lasts for up to 12 weeks. During this period of immobilization, X-rays will be taken to check the progress of your healing. Once the healing is complete, the doctor can remove the cast.

Surgical Treatment

If you have a displaced fracture of your scaphoid bone, surgery may be necessary. In this type of surgery, the doctor may use pins, screws, plates, and rods to hold the bone fragments together while the bone heals. A bone graft may also be taken from another bone in order to facilitate full healing.

Hand Doctor in the Tri-Cities, Tennessee

If you have pain or weakness in your hand or another area of your body, contact us today at Watauga Orthopaedics to schedule an appointment with one of our medical specialists. 

Call us at (423) 282-9011 or request an appointment online now. Let us help you heal quickly so you can get back to the active lifestyle you love!