Scaphoid Fracture

SUMMARY

Causes:

  • High force or weight through the wrist
  • Falling on an outstretched arm onto a hard surface
  • Common in skateboarding, snowboarding and skiing

Symptoms:

  • Pain in the wrist at the point of injury
  • Swelling and aching in the area
  • Reduced grip and strength in the wrist

Treatment:

  • Rest and Immobilisation
  • Plaster Cast
  • Strengthening and stretching exercises

What is a Scaphoid Fracture?

A scaphoid fracture occurs when one of the small bones located in the wrist between the outer arm bone (radius) and the thumb. The most common cause of a scaphoid fracture is overuse injury is as a result of a high force or pressure put on the wrist which it is unable to withstand for example falling onto an outstretched arm. This is often seen in sports such as skateboarding, snowboarding and skiing due to the amount of falling onto hard surfaces that can occur.

Scaphoid Fracture Symptoms

A patient who has sustained a Scaphoid fracture will usually feel pain and swelling at the base of the thumb which may increase when moving the thumb or wrist or when attempting to grip. Unless there is a noticeable change in the wrists appearance, this injury can be easily over looked or mistaken for a lesser injury however as sprains are rare, it is more likely to be a fracture.

The wrist is likely to feel weak and ache. It becomes most apparent first thing in the morning and the patient may feel unable to grip and may suffer reduced strength in the area.

Scaphoid Fracture Diagnosis

In order to diagnose a Scaphoid Fracture, a doctor will give an examination of the area and an X-ray will be undergone in order to confirm the diagnosis and also to rule out any further complications.

Scaphoid Fracture Treatment

In order to treat a scaphoid fracture, the area will need to be immobilised for a period of time using a plaster cast to allow the injury chance to heal and to ensure that the blood supply to the scaphoid returns to normal. Rest is a crucial part of recovery in order to allow the injury time to heal and to prevent any further activity which could cause damage or discomfort to the injury.

When the injury has begun healing and you are advised by a physiotherapist or doctor, it is important for the patient to undergo a rehabilitation program such as strengthening and stretching exercises which will keep the area strong and make it easier to return to sports once the injury has fully recovered. These exercises should not be carried out if the patient feels pain in the area and the advice of a physiotherapist should always be sought in order to obtain an exercise regime suitable for the individual.

For more severe cases, a doctor may recommend surgery to correct the injury which include inserting metal screws and wires into the area to hold the scaphoid in place whilst it heals.

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