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Thumb Fracture

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Dec 4, 2023.

What is a thumb fracture?

A thumb fracture is a break in a bone in your thumb.

What are the signs and symptoms of a thumb fracture?

  • Pain and swelling
  • Little or no thumb movement
  • Thumb shape or position that is not normal

How is a thumb fracture diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask about the injury and examine your thumb. You may need any of the following:

  • An x-ray may be used to check for a fracture.
  • A CT scan may show ligament or tissue damage. You may be given contrast liquid before the pictures are taken to help healthcare providers see the damage better. Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid.

How is a thumb fracture treated?

  • 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.
  • A cast or splint will help keep your thumb in the correct position as it heals.
  • Closed reduction is used to move the bones of your thumb back into their correct positions without surgery. Your healthcare provider will line your bones up by hand.
  • Open reduction and internal fixation is surgery to straighten your broken bones. Wires, screws, metal plates, or pins may be used to hold your broken bones together.

How do I manage my symptoms?

  • Apply ice on your thumb to help 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 before you place it on your thumb, splint, or cast. Apply ice for 15 to 20 minutes every hour, or as directed.
  • Elevate your thumb 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 your thumb elevated comfortably.

  • Check the skin around your cast or splint daily for red or sore areas.
  • Go to a hand therapist, if recommended. Your healthcare provider may recommend this after your cast or splint is removed. A hand therapist can help you with exercises to strengthen your hand and help restore movement.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • Your cast cracks or breaks.
  • You are not able to move your fingers.
  • You have severe pain in your thumb or hand.
  • You have new or increased swelling in your thumb or hand.
  • Your cast feels too tight.
  • Your injured thumb is numb.
  • Your skin under the cast or splint burns or stings.

When should I call my doctor?

  • The skin around your cast becomes red and sore.
  • The skin under your cast or splint itches, and the itch does not go away.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

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.

© Copyright Merative 2023 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes.

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