Hand Fracture

(Metacarpal Fracture)


A hand fracture is a break in any of the five long bones (metacarpals) between the wrist and the fingers.

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

Bones in the Hand

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This problem 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 certain sports
  • Squeezing or crushing of the hand

Risk Factors

The risk of this problem is higher in people who have:

  • Osteoporosis
  • Poor nutrition
  • Bone problems that started at birth
  • Been playing contact sports
  • Violent behavior around them


This problem may cause:

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


You will be asked about your symptoms, health history, and how the injury happened. An exam will be done. It will focus on the hand. This is often enough to make the diagnosis.

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


It may take 6 to 8 weeks to heal. The goals of treatment are to ease pain and swelling. Medicine can help. Other options are:

  • A splint, brace, cast to keep the bone in line as it heals
  • Exercises to help with strength, flexibility, and range of motion

Children's bones have growth plates that let bones grow and harden with age. A child with a fracture may need to be checked over time to make sure the bone heals the right way and keeps growing.

Putting Bones Back in Place

Some fractures cause pieces of bone to come apart. These pieces will need to be put back into place. This may be done:

  • Without surgery—anesthesia will be used to ease pain while the doctor moves the pieces back into place
  • With surgery—pins, screws, plates, or a rod may be needed to reconnect the pieces and hold them in place


To lower the risk of this type of fracture:

  • Wear safety equipment when playing sports or doing activities.
  • Always wear a seat belt when driving or riding in a motor vehicle.
  • Do weight-bearing and strengthening exercises to build strong bones.
  • Do not put yourself at risk for trauma to the bone.


Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons


Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation


Broken hand. HandCare—American Society for Surgery of the Hand website. Available at: https://www.assh.org/handcare/condition/broken-hand. Accessed July 29, 2021.
Hand fractures. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/hand-fractures. Accessed July 29, 2021.
Metacarpal fractures. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/metacarpal-fractures. Accessed July 29, 2021.
Last reviewed July 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Warren A. Bodine, DO, CAQSM
Last Updated: 7/29/2021

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