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. Dr. Gregg A. Vagner is a fellowship-trained surgeon who specializes in hand repair procedures at our Cedar Park, TX, office and additional Austin-area locations. He will work to address your hand fracture with the most conservative treatment possible but can also perform surgery, if necessary. 

X-ray of hand fracture
Prompt treatment of a hand fracture is essential to preserve proper function.

Potential Causes

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.

Vehicular Crashes

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.

Sports-Related Injuries

Many contact sports carry an increased risk for hand fractures. These include:

  • Football
  • Rugby
  • Soccer
  • Hockey
  • Skateboarding
  • Skiing
  • Snowboarding
  • 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
  • Bruising
  • 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, Dr. Vagner 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 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, Dr. Vagner will 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. Dr. Vagner 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.

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Austin Office

4611 Guadalupe St
Ste 200
Austin, TX 78751

Open Today 8:00am - 5:00pm

Cedar Park Office

715 Discovery Blvd
Ste 102
Cedar Park, TX 78613

Open Today 8:00am - 5:00pm

Lakeway Office

5329 Serene Hills Dr
Ste 202
Austin, TX 78738

Open Today 8:00am - 5:00pm