4 Questions to Ask Your Orthopedic Doctor About Hand Fractures
If you have a fractured hand, then it is important to get it checked out by a healthcare professional. The Orthopedic Group offers comprehensive orthopedic care, including hand and wrist injury treatment. Please call us or book appointment online. We have 3 convenient locations to serve you in Leesburg VA, Lansdowne VA, Stonesprings VA, and Surrounding Areas!
How do I know if my hand is fractured?
If you suspect that your hand is fractured, you should seek medical attention immediately. A hand fracture occurs when one or more bones of the hand break, through an injury sustained in a fall, an accident or through contact sports. A fractured hand is distinguishable by one bone broken into one or more pieces or several bones being broken. Injuries to the tendons, muscles or ligaments of the hand are found in a sprain, not a fractured hand.
Symptoms of a fractured hand will vary by person, depending on the extent of the injury and how the injury was sustained. The most common symptoms are tenderness, swelling, bruising, severe pain, stiff or numb fingers, difficulty moving the hand or fingers, crooked fingers, more severe pain when moving or trying to grip and a snap sound when the injury occurred. The symptoms of a broken hand and a sprained hand are very similar, so it can be hard to distinguish when it’s a break versus a sprain. Sometimes looking at the cause of the injury can help determine which one it is. Physical trauma causes hand fractures, so if the hand is injured as the result of being crushed or hit with a hard impact or object, it has a higher likelihood of being broken.
How long does a hand fracture take to heal?
The length of time for a hand fracture to heal will depend on the extent of the injury and the location of the break, as well as the age and overall health of the patient. Typically, recovery can take from three to six weeks, with a supportive device being worn during that time. Your doctor will determine the best treatment for the break, whether a brace or splint is enough, if it has to be put in a cast, or in extreme cases, if it requires surgery. Depending on the method of support, your doctor may want you to start hand therapy a few weeks after the injury, while the hand is still braced, to work on decreasing the stiffness and regaining strength. Physical therapy may be continued once the cast or brace has been removed, if still needed to get the hand back to normal. As with any broken bone, your doctor will most likely want to perform additional x-rays after the initial diagnosis to track the progress of the bones healing to determine when the cast can be removed, and ensuring the bones are healing the way they are supposed to so as to avoid future complications or discomfort.
Do hand fractures heal on their own?
Hand fractures, like many other broken bones, can heal naturally without medical treatment. However, consultation with a medical professional and proper treatment for a hand fracture will ensure that the hand heals properly and adequately. Letting the fracture heal naturally, without medical intervention, could result in the bones healing at the wrong angle or not lining up with other bones. This could increase the chances of the bone breaking more easily in the case of future trauma to the hand or causing pain and discomfort in the hand when trying to complete everyday tasks. There may also be stiffness in the hand if the bones don’t heal properly and proper physical therapy treatment isn’t followed. In some cases, the bones may need to be re-broken by an orthopedic surgeon if they have healed incorrectly, leading to more pain and recovery time for the patient. It is always recommended to consult with a doctor if a broken bone is suspected so it can be properly diagnosed. A doctor will let you know the best course of action to ensure the break heals properly so as not to cause future pain or discomfort, and regain most, if not all, range of motion in the affected area.
Do hand fractures need surgery?
Similar to other types of broken bones, your doctor or a trained medical professional will determine if surgery is needed to heal a hand fracture through an x-ray or MRI. In most cases, a simple cast or brace will be adequate to support the broken bone or bones during the healing process. Surgery may be needed for more severe breaks where bones need to be fused together or pins, screws or other hardware inserted to aid in the healing of the broken bones.
For more information, call us or schedule an appointment online! We serve patients from Leesburg VA, Lansdowne VA, Stonesprings VA, Ashburn VA, Sterling VA, Aldie VA, South Riding VA, Herndon VA, Winchester VA, Reston VA, and Chantilly VA.