Diagnosing & Treating Hand Fractures
There are several bones in the hand and wrist. If one or more of these bones break, it can lead to several complications if not treated promptly, such as nerve damage. At our Cedar Park, TX, office and additional Austin-area locations, we will work to address your hand fracture with the most conservative treatment possible but can also perform surgery, if necessary.
Crushing injuries, direct blows, and other traumatic events can lead to a broken hand. Some of the most common causes of a hand fracture include:
Slips, Trips, or Falls
It is a natural tendency to try and catch yourself on an outstretched arm when falling. Unfortunately, this is the leading cause of hand and wrist fractures.
Car, motorcycle, and bicycle accidents can all result in a hand fracture. These types of injuries often require surgical intervention, especially if the bones have broken into several pieces.
Many contact sports carry an increased risk for hand fractures. These include:
- In-line skating
- Horseback riding
Individuals with osteoporosis are more vulnerable to bone breaks, including hand fractures. If you suffer from this condition, use extra caution when participating in certain activities.
Identifying a Fracture
In most cases, it is apparent when a hand fracture has occurred. In addition to severe pain that worsens while squeezing or gripping objects, patients may experience:
- Tenderness in the hand or wrist
- Inflammation or swelling
- Tingling in the fingers or hand
- Noticeable deformities, such as crooked fingers
- Stiffness or immobility
It is extremely important to see a doctor as soon as possible if you notice any of these symptoms. Delaying necessary treatment could result in decreased range of motion, reduced grip strength, and poor healing.
Treating a Hand Fracture
If a hand fracture is suspected, your doctor will confirm the diagnosis with a comprehensive evaluation. During this visit, he will assess the wrist and hand and take x-rays or scans to visualize the location and severity of the break.
Recommended treatment will depend on the complexity of the fracture. Common treatments at our office include:
- Immobilization: For proper healing to occur, the fractured bones must be stabilized and immobilized. This is why a sling, splint, or cast is necessary. If there are bones that need to be repositioned, your doctor may perform a reduction prior to the placement of a cast or sling.
- Medications: If the skin has been punctured as a result of a fracture, antibiotics will be prescribed to reduce the risk of infection. To mitigate tenderness and discomfort, prescription pain medications or over-the-counter drugs are typically recommended.
- Physical therapy: Once your splint or cast is removed, you will most likely require physical therapy to regain movement and reduce stiffness in the hand and wrist. Keep in mind that full recovery can often take several months.
- Surgery: Sometimes a fracture is too severe to be addressed with immobilization alone. During surgery, plates, screws, rods, or pins are used to hold the bones in place during the healing process.
While we strive to keep treatment as conservative as possible, surgical intervention is sometimes necessary. Our team can help you explore your treatment options during a consultation at our practice.
Contact Orthopaedic Specialists of Austin
If you have suffered a hand fracture, addressing the issue in a timely manner can help reduce the risk of complications. To learn more or schedule a consultation, contact Orthopaedic Specialists of Austin online or call (512) 476-2830.