Hand fracture - aftercare
The 5 bones in your hand that connect your wrist to your thumb and fingers are called the metacarpal bones.
You have a fracture (break) in one or more of these bones. This is called a hand (or metacarpal) fracture. Some hand fractures require wearing a splint or a cast. Some need to be repaired with surgery.
Boxer's fracture - aftercare; Metacarpal fracture - aftercare
Types of Hand Fractures
Your fracture may be in one of the following areas on your hand:
If you have a bad break, you may be referred to a bone doctor (orthopedic surgeon). You may need surgery to insert pins and plates to repair the fracture.
What to Expect
You will likely have to wear a splint. The splint will cover part of your fingers and both sides of your hand and wrist. Your health care provider will tell you how long you need to wear the splint. Usually, it is for about 3 weeks.
If you had surgery, you may have a cast instead of a splint.
Most fractures heal well. After healing, your knuckle may look different or your finger may move in a different way when you close your hand.
Some fractures require surgery. You will likely be referred to an orthopedic surgeon if:
Self-care at Home
You may have pain and swelling for 1 or 2 weeks. To reduce this:
For pain, you can take ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn), aspirin, or acetaminophen (Tylenol). You can buy these pain medicines without a prescription.
Follow your provider's instructions about wearing your splint. Your provider will tell you when you can:
Keep your splint or cast dry. For example, when you shower, wrap the splint or cast in a plastic bag.
You will likely have a follow-up exam 1 to 3 weeks after your injury. For severe fractures, you may need physical therapy after your splint or cast is removed.
You can usually return to work or sports activities about 6 to 8 weeks after the fracture. Your provider or therapist will tell you when.
When to Call the Doctor
Call your provider if your hand is:
Also call your provider if your cast is falling apart or putting pressure on your skin.
Day CS. Fractures of the metacarpals and phalanges. In: Wolfe SW, Hotchkiss RN, Pederson WC, Kozin SH, Cohen MS, eds. Green's Operative Hand Surgery. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 7.
Ruchelsman DE, Bindra RR. Fractures and dislocations of the hand. In: Browner BD, Jupiter JB, Krettek C, Anderson PA, eds. Skeletal Trauma: Basic Science, Management, and Reconstruction. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 42.
Review Date: 4/9/2018
Reviewed By: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, San Francisco, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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