If you suspect you have broken a small bone near the thumb-side of your wrist, you are most likely suffering from a scaphoid fracture. Unlike some fractures, scaphoid fractures typically need treatment to heal well and avoid long-term pain, stiffness, or arthritis.
Scaphoid fractures are most often the result of a fall or twisted wrist. Many of our patients get them while playing on the football field or the basketball court or enjoying. Car accidents, punching incidents, and other physical activities that involve falls are also common causes.
With a fracture of this nature, you may not notice the broken bone right away because the symptoms are minor. However, if you have broken your bone you may notice pain, tenderness, or welling beneath your thumb; difficulty gripping objects; difficulty twisting your wrist; or bruises around your wrist.
It can be hard to tell the difference between a sprained and broken wrist. If you have fallen on an outstretched hand and your wrist hurts, you should visit your primary care doctor to find out if you have any broken bones.
If the fracture is unclear or your doctor is unsure about a diagnosis, he or she will likely refer you to an orthopaedic specialist. Treatments for scaphoid fractures may include wearing an arm cast or splint to keep the bone in the proper place and accelerate healing, rest, over the counter medications, or, in some cases, surgery.
To ensure you heal well, it’s important to visit a doctor as soon as possible after sustaining a wrist injury. The sooner you are seen by your physician or orthopaedic specialist the more likely you are to avoid serious, long-term side-effects.
Dr. Richard D. Knauft is a fellowship trained hand surgeon with Virginia Orthopaedic & Spine Specialists who specializes in hand and wrist reconstruction. He studied at the National Hospital for Orthopaedic Surgery and Rehabilitation in Alexandria, Virginia. Dr. Knauft is a member of the Academy of Orthopaedic Surgery, the American Association of Hand Surgery and the Portsmouth Academy of Medicine.