Thumb Fractures: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

The thumb has two bones - the distal phalange placed between the tip and the knuckle; and the proximal phalange extending between the knuckle and the base. The first metacarpal connects the thumb to the hand. A break or a crack in any of these bones is called the thumb fracture. The chances of developing Arthritis in the hand increases once the thumb gets fractured. The most difficult situation occurs when the bone near the base of the thumb breaks. The amount of time taken to treat the fractured thumb depends on the severity of the condition and it may take up to 3 months for it to heal completely.

Causes

  • Falling on an outstretched hand
  • Sports injuries (while catching or throwing a ball)
  • Contact sports such as wrestling and other sports like skiing or hockey may cause sudden muscle contractions, twisting and catching of the thumb
  • Occurrence of a bone disease increases the risk of fracture
  • Lack of calcium in the body may weaken the bones

Symptoms

  • Considerable amount of pain at the point of fracture
  • Swelling in the hand
  • Redness or discoloration
  • The joint may feel tender when touched
  • Limited ability to move the hand and thumb
  • Inability to grasp objects
  • Visibly deformed thumb
  • Numbness in the hand
  • The thumb may turn cold due to lack of blood supply

Diagnosis

  • Detailed assessment of the mode of injury besides the symptoms reported by the patient
  • The doctor may palpate the injured hand to diagnose the severity of damage and check for loss of sensation
  • X-ray examination may be required to study the level of bone damage and find the exact location of fracture
  • The doctor may also check the arm and other parts of the hand to see if they have suffered any additional damage

Treatment

  • Following a healthy diet to compensate for the loss of calcium and minerals in the body improves bone health
  • Use of protective tape to hold the thumb in place allows the joint to recover
  • Use of padded splint to prevent the thumb from moving or getting injured
  • Recommended use of a thumb spica-cast for a couple of weeks in case the middle part of the bone has been damaged
  • Surgical insertion of wires and pins to hold the bone in place and allow healing. This is called internal reduction
  • External fixation- in some cases, the bone may be held in place using pins and screws that are attached to an external device
  • A customized hand therapy program needs to be followed post-surgery or when the cast is removed to restore strength and function

Visit OrthoTexas for treatment of thumb fractures. The orthopedic doctors in Plano use advanced procedures to provide relief from hand and wrist pain. For an appointment, call at (972) 985 - 1072.

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