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Hand Fracture

AMBULATORY CARE:

A hand fracture

is a break in a bone in your hand.

Common signs and symptoms of a hand fracture:

  • Pain or tenderness
  • Swelling, bruising, or a bump
  • Problems moving your hand
  • Hand shape is not normal
  • Knuckle looks sunken in

Seek care immediately if:

  • You have severe pain that does not get better, even with pain medicine.
  • Your injured hand or forearm is cold, numb, or pale.
  • Your cast or splint gets wet, damaged, or comes off.

Call your doctor or hand specialist if:

  • You have new sores around your cast or splint.
  • You notice a bad smell coming from under your cast.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Treatment

may include any of the following:

  • A cast or splint on your hand, wrist, and lower arm will prevent movement while your hand heals.
  • NSAIDs help decrease swelling and pain or fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.
  • Acetaminophen decreases pain and fever. It is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. Read the labels of all other medicines you are using to see if they also contain acetaminophen, or ask your doctor or pharmacist. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly. Do not use more than 4 grams (4,000 milligrams) total of acetaminophen in one day.
  • Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask your healthcare provider how to take this medicine safely. Some prescription pain medicines contain acetaminophen. Do not take other medicines that contain acetaminophen without talking to your healthcare provider. Too much acetaminophen may cause liver damage. Prescription pain medicine may cause constipation. Ask your healthcare provider how to prevent or treat constipation.
  • Closed reduction is used to put the bone back into the correct position without surgery.
  • Open reduction surgery may be needed to put the bone back into the correct position. Wires, pins, plates, or screws may be used to keep the broken pieces lined up correctly.

Manage your symptoms:

  • Wear a splint as directed. Do not remove the splint until you follow up with your healthcare provider or hand specialist.
  • Apply ice on your hand for 15 to 20 minutes every hour or as directed. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel before you apply it to your skin. Ice helps prevent tissue damage and decreases swelling and pain.
  • Elevate your hand above the level of your heart as often as you can. This will help decrease swelling and pain. Prop your hand on pillows or blankets to keep it elevated comfortably.

  • Go to physical therapy as directed. A physical therapist teaches you exercises to help improve movement and strength and to decrease pain.

Bathing with a cast or splint:

Your healthcare provider will tell you when it is okay to take a bath or shower. Do not let your cast or splint get wet. Before bathing, cover the cast or splint with a plastic bag. Tape the bag to your skin above the cast or splint to seal out water. Keep your hand out of the water in case the bag breaks or tears.

Cast or splint care:

  • Check the skin around the cast or splint for redness or sores every day.
  • Do not push down or lean on any part of the cast or splint.
  • Do not use a sharp or pointed object to scratch your skin under the cast or splint.

Activity:

You may not be able to drive for up to 2 weeks. Ask when it is safe for you to drive and return to other activities, such as sports.

Follow up with your doctor or hand specialist as directed:

You may need to return to have your cast, splint, or stitches removed. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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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.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.