Scaphoid fracture is an injury that affects the wrist area and can cause tenderness and discomfort, but how is it different from a sprain?
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In this article:
- What Is a Scaphoid?
- How Do Scaphoid Fractures Occur?
- What Are the Symptoms of a Scaphoid Fracture?
- How Is a Scaphoid Fracture Diagnosed?
- What Are the Available Treatments for Scaphoid Fracture?
- Can a Scaphoid Fracture Heal on Its Own?
- How Long Does It Take for a Fractured Scaphoid Bone to Heal?
7 Things You Need to Know About Scaphoid Fracture
What Is a Scaphoid?
The scaphoid is among the small bones that compose the carpal bones of the wrist. It is a bone as small as a peanut shell and is found between the hand and the forearm, near the thumb side of the wrist.
Fractures in this area will affect the blood flow of the wrist.
How Do Scaphoid Fractures Occur?
Scaphoid fractures occur when the scaphoid bone of the wrist breaks, often due to falling on a stretched out hand. When the weight of the body lands on the palm upon falling, or during vehicle collisions or any similar incident, the risk of the scaphoid fracture becomes higher.
What Are the Symptoms of a Scaphoid Fracture?
Pain on the thumb side of the wrist may be an indication of a fractured wrist. The discomfort may also come with tenderness in the wrist area and is usually followed by a decrease in the capacity of the arm to move.
Swelling may also begin days after the fall. The discomfort in the thumb area will also begin to increase and become more severe especially when trying to grasp or pinch something.
These initial symptoms of scaphoid fracture may sometimes be mistaken as symptoms of a sprain. It is important to have the affected area checked by a doctor immediately to determine whether it is a sprain or fracture.
If the fracture is left untreated, it may lead to further complications.
How Is a Scaphoid Fracture Diagnosed?
The most effective way to diagnose a broken scaphoid is to have it checked by the doctor through radiology or an X-ray of the wrist. Some symptoms of the fractures in the scaphoid bones are not as evident, and that is why having it properly checked after an incident will help identify if fracture exists.
Some tests that will also help in diagnosing scaphoid fractures include Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan and Computed Tomography (CT) scan.
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What Are the Available Treatments for Scaphoid Fracture?
The treatment options for scaphoid fracture will depend upon the severity of the injury. Some factors to be considered in choosing the best treatment are:
- the condition of the bones after the incident
- the length of time since the fracture happened
- the location where the fracture is most affected
Based on these factors, there are various treatments to choose from. Treatments must be administered upon the advice of the doctor.
- Cast – The cast is the most basic treatment option for this fracture, especially if the fracture is mild and no bone is displaced.
- Bone stimulator – This is a small device recommended by some doctors. It makes use of low intensity ultrasonic or pulsed electromagnetic waves to assist in the healing of the fracture.
- Bone grafting – This happens when new bone is taken from the arm or the hip and is placed around the fractured area to help the broken bone heal and regenerate.
- Surgery – Surgery is necessary when the fracture becomes severe; there are two popular ways to do this: In reduction, the bone is manipulated back into the proper position through an incision. In internal fixation, on the other hand, a metal is implanted in the bone to hold the scaphoid together until it fully heals.
Can a Scaphoid Fracture Heal on Its Own?
Broken bones do not naturally heal together without medical intervention. The best way to prevent further damage is to have the fracture treated immediately.
How Long Does It Take for a Fractured Scaphoid Bone to Heal?
Scaphoid fractures usually heal within 6-12 weeks if immediate treatment is administered.
In some cases, the fracture heals faster or longer, depending on the severity of the case and on how soon the initial treatment was done. Usually, if the diagnosis is delayed, the fracture takes even longer to heal, sometimes reaching up to 6 months or more.
To understand more about scaphoid fracture treatment, watch this video from Action Rehab Hand Therapy:
Lack of immediate attention may cause scaphoid fractures to progress and affect one’s daily living. For any prolonged discomfort or pain, seek the assistance of a health professional as soon as possible.
We hope this lineup of FAQs has been helpful.
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