Take a moment to imagine what life would be like without having the ability to use one of your hands? It would be difficult to drive, dress, shower, and complete all of the activities that you currently take for granted. However, hand fractures are more common than many believe. Whether you were in a car accident, a sporting accident, had your hand slammed in a car door, or anything else, the damage can be severe, and you need to know what to expect and how to treat these types of injuries.
What Happens With a Hand Fracture?
The term “hand fracture” encompasses many different bones. Each hand has 27 bones, and any of them could fracture and need treatment. Bones in the hand could break near the wrist, near the knuckle, or closer to the middle part of the bone. When a break occurs, you will feel pain and experience swelling. Some may also see a deformity in their hand based on the severity of the break and the amount of swelling. It will not be possible to move the fingers, at least not without a massive amount of pain. The knuckle may have an indented or depressed appearance and the affected finger could appear shorter than it should.
To determine the type of injury and the severity of the injury, the doctor will need to take an x-ray. This will give them an inside look at the fracture to determine the precise location and the type of fracture it is. Some patients will also undergo a test to ascertain the range of motion they have left in the hand, as well as a sensation test. The sensation test tries to determine if there is any nerve damage to the hand.
Types of Treatment
With many hand fractures, it will be possible for the doctor to move the bones and realign them without surgery so that they can heal properly. Once they have the bones in alignment, they will apply a brace, splint, or a cast, which will help to keep the bones in place until they can heal properly. After setting the hand, the doctor will want to take a second set of x-rays (generally about a week afterwards) to ensure they are set properly and healing. The length of time that you are in the cast will vary, but it is typically about three to four weeks.
Some types of hand fractures are much more severe though, and they will require surgery. If the hand has been crushed or the fracture causes pieces of the bone to protrude through the skin, surgery is in order. The hand surgeon will use a variety of techniques and implants, such as wires or plates, to help keep the bones aligned during the healing process. In some cases, they will remove the implants after the bone heals; other times, they will need to remain in the hand. After the surgery, you may need to do exercises and therapy to restore the mobility of your hand.
Hand fractures can be serious and those who feel they may have a broken bone in their hand should seek the advice of a medical professional as soon as possible.