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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
A hand fracture is a break in one of the bones in your hand. Your hand is made up of bones called phalanges and metacarpals. Phalanges are bones of the fingers. Metacarpals are bones that make up your knuckles and connect to your wrist.
- Pain medicine: You may be given a prescription medicine to decrease pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take this medicine.
- Antibiotics: This medicine is given to fight or prevent an infection caused by bacteria. Always take your antibiotics exactly as ordered by your healthcare provider. Do not stop taking your medicine unless directed by your healthcare provider. Never save antibiotics or take leftover antibiotics that were given to you for another illness.
- Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Follow up with your primary healthcare provider 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.
Bathing with a cast or splint:
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 the water. Keep your hand out of the water in case the bag leaks. Follow instructions about when it is okay to take a bath or shower.
If you have pins in your hand, you will need to clean them daily. Cleaning the pins can help prevent an infection. Ask for more information about pin care.
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 because it may break.
- Do not use a sharp or pointed object to scratch your skin under the cast or splint.
- 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 hand for 15 to 20 minutes every hour as directed.
- Elevate your hand: Raise 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.
- Exercise and physical therapy: Ask when it is okay to start moving your hand. You may need to have physical therapy on your hand. A physical therapist will teach you exercises to help improve movement and strength, and to decrease pain.
You may not be able to drive yourself for up to 2 weeks after treatment for your hand fracture. You may need to wait for your pain to decrease so you can better control a motor vehicle. Ask for instructions about when it is safe for you to drive.
Return to sports:
It may take 4 to 6 weeks for your hand fracture to heal, but it can take months to regain hand strength. You may need to avoid sports that can reinjure your hand. Ask when it will be safe for you to play sports again.
Contact your primary healthcare provider or hand specialist if:
- You have a fever.
- You have new sores around your brace, cast, or splint.
- You have new or worsening trouble moving your hand.
- You notice a bad smell coming from under your cast.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Seek care immediately or call 911 if:
- The pain in your injured hand gets worse, even after you rest and take pain medicine.
- You have drainage from your surgery wounds or open skin areas.
- Your surgery wound or open skin areas become red, warm, and swollen.
- Your injured hand or fingers feel numb.
- The skin or fingers on your injured hand become swollen, cold, white, or blue.
- Your cast cracks or gets damaged.
- Your arm feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
- You suddenly feel lightheaded and short of breath.
- You have chest pain when you take a deep breath or cough. You may cough up blood.
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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.