Definition

A hand fracture is a break in any of the 5 long bones (metacarpals) between the wrist and the fingers. It causes pain and makes it hard to use the hand.

Fractures of the finger bones can be found in Finger Fracture.

Bones in the Hand

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Causes

A hand fracture is caused by trauma to the long bones of the hand from:

  • Falls
  • Blows
  • Twists
  • Punching a person or object with a closed fist
  • Playing some sports
  • Squeezing or crushing of the hand

Risk Factors

Your risk of fracture may be higher if you have:

  • Osteoporosis
  • Poor nutrition
  • Problems with your bones that started when you were born
  • Been playing contact sports
  • Violent behavior around you

Symptoms

A hand fracture may cause:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Problems moving your hand
  • Changes in the way your hand looks

Diagnosis

You will be asked about your symptoms, health history, and how the injury happened. The doctor will look at your hand.

Diagnosis can be made by exam. Images may be taken to find out how much harm was done. This can be done with x-rays.

Treatment

Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Most hand fractures heal without surgery. Your options may be:

Initial Care

A cast or splint may be needed to protect, support, and keep the hand fracture in line while it heals.

Exercises may be needed after the bone starts to heal. This will help with strength and function.

Surgery

More severe fractures may need surgery. Screws, plates, or wires may be used to hold the fracture in place.

Prevention

To lower your risk of a hand fracture, take these steps:

  • Do not put yourself at risk for trauma to the bone.
  • Always wear a seatbelt when driving or riding in a car.
  • Do weight-bearing and strengthening exercises to build strong bones.
  • Wear safety equipment when you play sports.

To lower your risk of falls at work and home:

  • Clean spills right away.
  • Remove things that can be tripped on, such as loose cords, area rugs, and clutter.
  • Use nonslip mats in the bathtub and shower.
  • Put grab bars next to the toilet and in the shower or tub.
  • Put in handrails on both sides of stairs.
  • Walk only in well-lit rooms, stairs, and halls.
  • Keep flashlights on hand for a power outage.
RESOURCES:

Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
http://www.familydoctor.org

Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
http://www.orthoinfo.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
http://www.canorth.org

Health Canada
https://www.canada.ca

REFERENCES:

Broken hand. American Society for Surgery of the Hand website. Available at: http://www.assh.org/handcare/hand-arm-injuries/broken-bone. Published 2016. Accessed June 19, 2019.

Hand fractures. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00010. Accessed March 2018. Accessed June 19, 2019.

Last reviewed June 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review BoardWarren A. Bodine, DO, CAQSM  Last Updated: 4/22/2020