You’re walking along, talking to a friend or checking your phone. Then, there’s a crack or dip in the sidewalk. You’re off balance. Falling forward. You put your hand out to protect yourself. And crack! There goes your wrist.
“The scaphoid bone is one of eight small bones that make up the carpal bones of the wrist,” says McLeod Orthopedic Specialist Christopher Litts, MD. “It’s on the thumb side of the wrist and helps with motions and stability in the wrist joint. It’s also a very common injury when a person tries to protect himself with an outstretched hand when falling forward.”
Commonly, the injury occurs in sports or auto accidents. Men between the ages of 15 and 30 comprise the largest number of victims.
You’ll feel deep, dull pain and, possibly, experience bruising or swelling on the wrist. Pain’s worse when you try to grasp, squeeze or pinch an object.
If the fractured bone fragments line up, you won’t experience any distortion near the injury and might, mistakenly, think it’s only a sprain. Yet, delaying treatment can complicate the healing process.
DIAGNOSIS & TREATMENT
An Orthopedic Specialist will start with an X-ray of the wrist. If the break is not clearly visible in the X-ray, you may be given a wrist splint and re-scheduled for another X-ray in a couple of weeks. Or you may be referred for a CT scan or MRI.
If the fracture is close to the thumb, the orthopedic specialist may put your forearm and hand in a cast or splint that runs from below your elbow to over your thumb. This break heals in a matter of weeks.
If the fracture is closer to the forearm, the cast or split may be about the same but healing is more difficult because this area does not have a very good blood supply.
Occasionally, your specialist may use an ultrasonic or electromagnetic device to stimulate bone regrowth.
When surgery is required, metal implants will hold the bones together for healing.
In the worst case, a bone may be taken from your forearm and grafted around the broken bone.
You might need to wear a cast or splint for as long as six months. To regain full motion and wrist strength, your specialist might recommend some physical therapy.
ACTION YOU CAN TAKE
During the healing process, you should avoid:
Sources include: McLeod Health, Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, American Academy of Family Physicians