Generally, when even one of the small bones in the hand is broken, it is already considered a hand fracture. Fractures usually occur due to direct trauma or falling, with the hand supporting the body to break the fall. It could also be that the hand itself hit a hard and solid object, which fractured a bone. There could be fracture in the palm (metacarpal fracture), fracture in the finger (phalange fracture) or the heel bone fracture (carpal fracture).
Hand Fracture Types
There are three main types of hand fractures and these are:
• Fractures of the fingers or phalange fractures. These fractures usually occur during extreme sports where the use of the fingers is needed to grab on to something. It could also be the result of accident or fall where the fingers smashed or landed first on a hard surface.
• Fractures of the metacarpal or the body of the hand. This can happen due to the direct blow to the hand or the hand was used in trying to smash a hard object but instead crushes the metacarpal bones.
• Fractures of the carpal bone or the heel of the hand. Typically, these types of hand fractures are normally seen on people doing martial arts or other contact sports where the hands are used to smash on things. Falls and accidents can also injure the carpal bones.
Hand Bone Fracture Diagnosis
The doctor normally begins with the diagnosis by inquiring from the patient about his medical history and past physical examination. He will also look for physical symptoms that include bruises in the hand, swelling and deformity. Circulation of the blood will also be monitored by feeling the hand constantly if it is turning hot or cold. If the patient has the inability to move his hand or fingers, this will be considered along with the diagnosis. To make the diagnosis complete, x-rays will be conducted and if severe fractures is on the scene, a bone scan or an MRI of the wrist will be also be recommended.
Hand Fracture Causes
Just like other bone fractures, hand fractures can be the result of many causes so aside from the direct blow on the hand, the following causes are also considered:
• Falls. The hand usually protects the body during a fall and this can break the bones in the hand or even the wrist bone.
• Injuries from sports. Hand fractures can easily result during contact sports or falling while engaging with the sports with an outstretched hand. Inline skating, roller skating and snowboarding are the most common outdoor sports that can easily harm the hand bones. In the case of fractures of the fingers, the most common sports that can harm them are basketball, baseball and football.
• Crashes from motor vehicles. When accidents happen in motor sports the usual result to the hand are high-velocity injuries. The crashes can cause the bones in the hand or wrist to fracture into fragments which ultimately need surgical repair.
Hand Fracture Symptoms
Where there is fracture in any part of the hand there would be the common symptoms and these could be the following:
• Pain in the affected area
• Swelling of the injured area, which is accompanied by discoloration of the skin from red to blue.
• A slight or a very obvious deformity especially if a bone is severely broken
• There is difficulty in moving the hand or the fingers
• Numbness sometimes occur
Hand Fracture Treatment
Since the hand is away from the body, once it is fractured, many ways can be used to treat it and one of the most effective methods is casting or splinting the fractured bone but only if it is not displaced. This method is already sufficient to treat the fracture although there are also other kinds of hand fractures that do not need splinting but can also heal in due time.
For severely fractured bones, surgery is needed and metal pins will be inserted into the bones to hold them together. This is done when the patient is under general anesthesia. The small metal pins will stay there for many weeks until the fracture has healed. In some cases, external fixators are also used so that there will be an assurance that the bones are properly aligned before they heal completely. However, other doctors prefer the metal plates and screws than the pins especially if the patient needs further treatment after the bone regenerates and healing occurs.
Accidents that can cause hand fractures do occur, so we cannot say exactly how to prevent it from happening although some people use their hands more than their hands can afford to absorb. In this case we have to have preventive methods to make our bones in our hands stronger. By including in your diet foods that are rich with calcium such as cheese, yogurt and milk we can have enough supplements to make the bones in our hands sturdier and denser. Developing hand exercises with the use of weight-bearing or weights can also make our hand muscles and bones stronger. When it comes to precaution, always be cautions with what you do especially if your hand is more exposed to injury so the best advice is to always use protective hand gears during your active sports.
When to Call A Doctor
You will know when you need to see a doctor once you see and feel symptoms of hand injury such as pain and tenderness on the injured area followed by swelling, deformity of the hand, an open wound and numbness.