Scaphoid fractures, or fractures of the very small bones of the wrists, occur when individuals fall onto their hands. Symptoms can vary from person to person, and depending on the severity of the fracture, the treatments may also vary. Learning more about scaphoid fractures and your options for treatment can help you make the best decisions for your health.
Causes and Symptoms of Scaphoid Fracture
In almost all cases, scaphoid fractures occur when individuals slip and fall before landing on their outstretched hands. The sudden pressure and force can cause the small bones between the arm and the hand to crack, thus leading to a fracture. These fractures can be relatively simple and involve only a small crack, but in some cases, and depending on the individual’s age and health, the bones may shatter. Symptoms of scaphoid fracture can vary a great deal. For some, mild pain and tenderness in the wrist is the only symptom. For others, the pain may be more severe, and it may even make it difficult or impossible for the individual to use his or her thumb and fingers to grasp or pinch something. Numbness is also common with this injury; the scaphoid bones are known for having very low blood flow, and when a fracture disrupts it further, patients sometimes experience numbness in the palms of the hands and fingers.
Treatment for Scaphoid Fracture
The treatment for the scaphoid fracture will depend on the nature of the injury. For simple cracks, most doctors will recommend nothing more than a cast for anywhere from three to six weeks to allow the bone to heal on its own. You may be given pain medication, advised to take anti-inflammatory medications, and be asked to use a sling to elevate your wrist. If the fracture is in a bone closer to the middle of the wrist, doctors will sometimes use bone stimulators, which are devices that generate low-intensity electrical impulses, to aid in the healing process.
Surgical treatment may be required if the bone is out of its original place. This is known as “reduction surgery,” and it is relatively simple. Another common surgical treatment is known as internal fixation, and this is used when a bone shatters into two or more pieces. A screw placed between the fragments holds them in place until they have completely healed. Recovering from a scaphoid fracture can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months depending on the nature of your injury. If you believe you have suffered such a fracture, it is crucial that you seek immediate medical treatment. This will not only help you get the pain relief you need, but it will also aid the healing process and prevent any complications.