Scaphoid fractures occur in the wrist, generally as a result of falling on an outstretched hand. The scaphoid is one of the small carpal bones in the wrist. When this bone breaks, symptoms do not always surface immediately. But without proper treatment, scaphoid fractures can be painful, interfere with range of motion, and even cause arthritis.
What Causes a Scaphoid Fracture?
Unlike other medical conditions, scaphoid fractures do not generally occur as a result of risk factors or disease. The cause of this type of fracture is usually external force or trauma to the palm of the hand. When there is too much force, it causes the scaphoid bone to break at either end or in the middle.
That being said, there are certain activities that create a greater likelihood of fracturing the scaphoid bone. For example, people who participate in high-impact sports like football or snowboarding can fall on their hand and sustain a scaphoid fracture. Though these athletes can wear wrist braces or guards to mitigate the risk of injury.
Are There Common Symptoms of a Scaphoid Fracture?
Due to the location of the scaphoid bone in the wrist, the symptoms of a fracture can be difficult to discern. For patients with less severe fractures, this type of injury might seem like a mere wrist sprain at first. But without proper care, scaphoid fractures can cause pain, swelling, and inflammation on the thumb side of the wrist.
In severe cases, the symptoms of a scaphoid fracture can become much worse. If the fracture is displaced — meaning bone or fragments of bone have shifted out of place — intense pain can be expected. Patients with displaced scaphoid fractures will likely have difficulty moving their thumb or wrist or making grasping or pinching movements.
What is the Process for Diagnosing a Scaphoid Fracture?
To diagnose a scaphoid fracture, a doctor will usually begin with a physical examination. If the patient displays swelling or inflammation and limited range of motion, it could be a sign of a scaphoid fracture.
But as these fractures can be difficult to detect, a doctor will typically request imaging test, such as X-rays, MRIs, or CT scans. These imaging tests can provide much better insight into the condition of bone, tissue, and other structures. This helps the doctor isolate and diagnose the precise cause of injury.
Is it Possible to Treat a Scaphoid Fracture?
In short, yes, scaphoid fractures are treated orthopaedic injuries. But it is imperative for a physician or similar medical professional to diagnose the injury and recommend treatment options. As scaphoid fractures are especially hard to diagnose, self-treatment is not advisable.
Depending on the patient’s injury and medical history, a physician might recommend the following these potential treatment methods for a scaphoid fracture:
- Non-Surgical — If a scaphoid fracture is less severe, a physician can reset the bone in its proper place and immobilize the joint with a cast or splint.
- Surgical — If a scaphoid fracture is more severe, a physician may need to conduct surgery to reset the bone, install plates or screws, or administer a bone graft.
Are You Suffering from a Scaphoid Fracture?
If you think you have a scaphoid fracture, it can be exceedingly helpful to consult with an esteemed orthopaedic physician. At the Orthopaedic Associates of Riverside, our physicians are board-certified professionals with a proven ability to treat various orthopaedic conditions, including scaphoid fractures. If you are suffering from a scaphoid fracture or similar orthopaedic injury, contact us today to assess your treatment options.