The hand skeleton is made up of many bones that form its supporting framework. This frame acts as a point of attachment for the muscles that make the wrist and fingers move. A fracture occurs when force is applied to a bone that is enough to break it. When this happens, there is pain, swelling, and decreased use of the injured part. Many people think that a fracture is different from a break, but they are essentially the same. Fractures may be simple with the bone pieces aligned and stable. Other fractures are unstable and the bone tends to displace or shift.
Comminuted fractures (shattered bone) usually occur from a high-energy force and are often unstable. An open (compound) fracture occurs when a bone fragment breaks through the skin. There is some risk of infection with compound fractures.
Perfect alignment of the bone on X-ray is not always necessary to get good function. A bony lump may appear at the fracture site as the bone heals and is known as fracture callus. This functions as a “spot weld”. This is a normal healing process and the lump usually gets smaller over time. Problems during the healing of a fracture could include stiffness, shifts in position, infection, slow healing, or complete failure to heal. Smoking has been shown to slow fracture healing. Fractures in children occasionally affect future growth of that bone. You can lessen the chances of complication by carefully following your hand surgeon’s advice during the healing process and before returning to work or sports activities. A hand therapy program with splints and exercises may be recommended by your physician to speed and improve the recovery process.
Fractures (or breaks) often take place in the hand. A fracture can cause pain, stiffness, and loss of movement. Because of the close relationship of bones to ligaments and tendons, the hand may be stiff and weak after the fracture heals. Fractures that involve joint surfaces may lead to early arthritis in those involved joints.