Scaphoid Fractures

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Scaphoid Fractures

What is a Scaphoid Fracture?

The scaphoid is arguably the most important of the carpal bones in the wrist. It is not uncommon to fracture your scaphoid; Injury occurs when people fall heavily onto an outstretched hand. If you have a scaphoid fracture, you will suffer from pain on the thumb side of your wrist with reduced wrist function. If the fracture does not go on to heal you will almost certainly have significant problems with your wrist so it is important that these injuries are picked up early if possible, and treated quickly, as delayed treatment may result in reduced healing.

An x-ray will identify most scaphoid fractures but not all, and if a scaphoid fracture is suspected even after an apparently normal x-ray, further investigations with a CT or MRI scan may be required to ascertain whether a fracture is present or not.

Scaphoid fractures are most commonly in an area of the bone called the waist and less commonly at the proximal pole or distal pole. The fracture may be displaced or undisplaced and may be simple (in two pieces only) or comminuted (the bone is in several pieces).

Scaphoid fracture non-union

Sometimes you will have a scaphoid fracture which has either not been diagnosed initially, or with initial treatment has not gone on to heal; this is called a scaphoid fracture non-union. There will usually be displacement of the fracture, and a defect will develop at the fracture site where some bone is lost, often with a reduction in the healing capacity of the edges of the bone.

How is a Scaphoid Fracture treated?

Scaphoid Fixation Post-Operative Care

Following fracture fixation patients will require a splint for many weeks and ongoing exercises supervised by hand therapists. Dr Jarrett advises keeping the splint in place while the fracture heals. The time needed in the splint will vary between fractures and patients. Giving up smoking, or reducing smoking as much as possible after scaphoid fractures will aid recovery, as smoking increases the risk that fractures will not heal, or will take longer to heal. Even with surgery, there is always a chance the fracture will not heal and may require further surgery.

Get an expert opinion from Dr Jarrett