Hand Fracture In Children

What is a hand fracture?

A hand fracture is a break in one of the bones in the hand. These include the bones in the wrist, fingers, and those that connect the wrist to the fingers. The most commonly fractured hand bones in children are the fingers. The long bone between the wrist and fingers is another common type of hand fracture in children.

What causes a hand fracture?

  • Twisting or bending the hand in the wrong way

  • Crushing injury to the hand

  • Fall on an outstretched hand

  • Hitting something with a closed fist

  • Physical abuse

  • Sports injury, such as during rollerblading, skateboarding, or skiing

What are the signs and symptoms of a hand fracture?

  • Pain, swelling, and bruising in the hand

  • Weakness, numbness, and tingling in the hand

  • Problems moving the hand

  • Abnormal bump, or your child's hand is shaped differently than normal

How is a hand fracture diagnosed?

Your child's caregiver will examine your child's hand and wrist. He will check for loss of feeling or movement. He will look for any open breaks in the skin. Your child may also need any of the following tests:

  • X-rays: Caregivers use these pictures of your child's hand to check for broken bones.

  • CT scan: This test is also called a CAT scan. An x-ray machine uses a computer to take pictures of your child's hand. The pictures may show a fracture or other hand injuries. Your child may be given dye before the pictures are taken to help caregivers see the pictures better. Tell the caregiver if your child has ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye.

  • MRI: This scan uses powerful magnets and a computer to take pictures of your child's hand. An MRI may show a fracture or other hand injuries. Your child may be given dye to help the pictures show up better. Tell the caregiver if your child has ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye. Do not let your child enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell the caregiver if your child has any metal in or on his body.

How is a hand fracture treated?

  • Cast or splint: Your child may need a cast or splint on his hand, wrist, and lower arm. This will help his hand heal and may decrease pain.

  • Medicines:

    • Pain medicine: Your child may be given a prescription medicine to decrease pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you give this medicine to your child.

    • Antibiotics: This medicine is given to help prevent or treat an infection caused by bacteria.

    • Tetanus shot: This is a shot of medicine to prevent your child from getting tetanus. He may need this if he has breaks in his skin from the injury. He should have a tetanus shot if he has not had one in the past 5 to 10 years.

  • Surgery: Surgery may be needed if your child's hand is badly injured. Caregivers use wires or screws to return bones to their normal positions. Caregivers may also do surgery to place a new bone into spaces between or around the fracture. The bone may be taken from another part of your child's body or from a donor.

What are the risks of a hand fracture?

Surgery or an open wound may cause your child to get an infection. He may also bleed more than expected. Your child's hand may not heal without treatment. His hand may be deformed if the fracture heals on its own. He may not be able to move his hand as well as he did before.

How can I help my child's hand heal?

  • Rest: Your child may need to rest his hand and avoid activities that cause pain.

  • Ice: Ice helps decrease swelling and pain. Ice may also help prevent tissue damage. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel, and place it on your child's hand for 15 to 20 minutes every hour or as directed.

When should I contact my child's caregiver?

Contact your child's caregiver if:

  • Your child has a fever.

  • Your child's cast has new blood stains or a foul smell.

  • Your child has more swelling than he did before the cast or splint was put on.

  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.

When should I seek immediate care?

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • Your child has increased pain that does not go away with pain medicine.

  • Your child's cast breaks or is damaged.

  • Your child's hand or forearm feels numb.

  • Your child's skin or fingernails become swollen, cold, or turn white or blue.

  • Blood soaks through your child's splint or cast.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's caregivers to decide what care you want for your child. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2013 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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