You may be wondering, “what in the world is a scaphoid fracture and why should I be worried about it?”. Well, scaphoid fractures are injuries of the wrist, and are actually incredibly common.
Most people sustain a scaphoid fracture after trying to break their fall with their hand. This instinctive action rarely works out in your favor, as it puts a huge amount of stress on the tiny bones in your hand and wrist, which is what typically causes them to break.
Where is My Scaphoid Bone?
As mentioned, the scaphoid is located within your wrist. More specifically, it exists between the bones of the thumb and radius. The scaphoid is one of several small bones in the wrist, which are often referred to collectively as the carpals.
It is difficult to see the scaphoid bone itself without an X-ray because the bone is covered by tendons in the hand.
Classification of a Scaphoid Fracture
Not all scaphoid fractures are created equal. A break can occur anywhere along the bone, making a difference in its classification. Most often, the scaphoid will break in the middle or at its “waist”, though it is also possible for the scaphoid to break at its proximal or distal end points.
There may also be a difference in the fracture itself and whether it was clean or not. A clean, or nondisplaced fracture will still line up correctly, whereas a displaced fracture will have gaps between different pieces of the bone or overlapping fragments. As you may have guessed, it is simpler to have a nondisplaced fracture than a displaced one, since a nondisplaced fracture will have a better chance of healing correctly.
How Do You Know of if You Have a Scaphoid Fracture?
Due to the multiple carpal bones in the wrist, it is not always easy to know whether one has been broken or not. Even if you are confident that you have a broken carpal, it is difficult to confirm which particular bone is broken without an X-ray or other imaging scan.
Most patients with a fractured scaphoid will experience:
- Swelling of the wrist near the thumb
- Pain that may worsen with movement of the wrist or thumb, specifically when attempting a grasping or pinching motion
- Consistent pain lasting beyond 1 or 2 days
The Road to Recovery
One of our highly trained physicians will suggest a treatment plan based upon your individual case and type of scaphoid fracture, which may or may not include surgical intervention. After the injury has been addressed, you will begin the healing process.
Sadly, scaphoid fractures are often difficult to repair because there is not a lot of blood supplied near the scaphoid bone, which hinders the healing process and makes complications during recovery extremely common.
The most effective ways to support the health of your scaphoid bone after a fracture include:
- Immobilizing the area until your physician says it is okay to reintroduce movements and strengthening exercises.
- Using a cast or brace to help reinforce your efforts at immobilizing the scaphoid bone.
- Quitting smoking as this habit can delay any kind of healing by the body.
- Using heavy machinery that vibrates, which could jar the fracture and break apart the bone again.
- Putting yourself at risk for another fall by engaging in athletic activities or situating yourself in a precarious position (ex: climbing up a ladder).
For more information on how to handle a scaphoid fracture, or to discuss possible treatment options with a wrist specialist, please call the Hand Surgery Specialists of Texas today at (713) 766-0357 to schedule an appointment!