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Scaphoid Fracture


What is a scaphoid fracture?

A scaphoid fracture is a break in one of the small bones of your wrist. It is usually caused by a fall on an outstretched hand. It may also be caused by trauma, such as a car accident.

What are the signs and symptoms of a scaphoid fracture?

  • Pain and tenderness
  • Trouble moving your wrist or thumb
  • Swelling where your wrist meets your thumb

How is a scaphoid fracture diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will examine your hand and wrist, and check for tenderness. He will ask you about the pain, and how you hurt your wrist. You may need any of the following:

  • X-rays are taken of your wrist and hand to see if your scaphoid is broken.
  • An MRI takes pictures of your wrist and hand to show if there is a broken bone or other problems. You may be given dye to help the pictures show up better. Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye. Do not enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell the healthcare provider if you have any metal in or on your body.
  • A CT , or CAT scan, is a type of x-ray that is taken of your wrist and hand. The pictures may show if the scaphoid is broken or out of place. You may be given a dye before the pictures are taken to help healthcare providers see the pictures better. Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye.

How is a scaphoid fracture treated?

  • A splint or cast may be put on your wrist and hand to decrease movement. These hold the broken bones in place, decrease pain, and prevent more damage to your wrist.
  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and 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 if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions. Do not give these medicines to children under 6 months of age without direction from your child's healthcare provider.
  • Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask your healthcare provider how to take this medicine safely.
  • Surgery may be needed if the broken scaphoid is out of place, or if it does not heal properly.

How can I manage my symptoms and promote healing?

  • Apply ice on your wrist 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. Ice helps prevent tissue damage, and decreases pain and swelling.
  • Elevate your wrist above the level of your heart as often as you can. This will help decrease pain and swelling. Prop your wrist on pillows or blankets to keep it elevated comfortably.
  • Do not smoke. If you smoke, it is never too late to quit. Smoking can slow healing. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you need help quitting.
  • Go to physical or occupational therapy as directed. A physical or occupational therapist can teach you exercises to help improve movement and strength, and to decrease pain.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You have questions or concerns about your care.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • Your fingers or thumb tingle, or feel numb.
  • Your fingers or thumb become cold, or look blue or white.
  • You have severe pain in your hand or wrist, or your pain worsens.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. 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.

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Further information

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