Scaphoid fracture

What is a scaphoid fracture?

The scaphoid is a bone of the hand located in the thumb area. It is the first external bone of the first row of the carpus, so it has the function of linking the two rows of carpal bones.

In this sense, it is the most frequently injured carpal bone. In this sense, the scaphoid fracture is the break of one of the small bones of the wrist.

Prognosis of the disease

Generally, if the appropriate treatment is indicated, the desired goal is achieved, which is the union of the scaphoid after the fracture. However, because of its anatomy, in some cases the treatment is not satisfactory, so that a process of degradation of the wrist is generated, evolving into osteoarthritis.

Symptoms of scaphoid fracture

When the face of the wrist is swollen and hypersensitive, it may be a sign of a scaphoid fracture. Apart from these, there are a number of more specific symptoms, including the following:

  • Pain and swelling in the wrist and thumb.
  • Joint stiffness
  • Decreased muscle strength
  • Pain on axial compression of the thumb
  • Irritation and loss of sensation in the thumb area

Medical tests for scaphoid fracture

To diagnose a scaphoid fracture, the specialist should perform a physical examination of the wrist to assess for tenderness, swelling, bruising and loss of motion in the area.

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In addition, it is important to perform a series of complementary tests such as the following:

  • X-rays: these make it possible to obtain images of the bones and determine the existence of other fractures.
  • MRI: In some cases, this type of test can determine a scaphoid fracture before an x-ray.
  • CT scan: This test can reveal a scaphoid fracture, as well as show if the bones are displaced. The information from the CT scan allows the expert to determine a treatment plan.

What are the causes of a scaphoid fracture?

Generally, a scaphoid fracture originates when a person falls on an outstretched hand with the weight of the body on the palm of the hand. In this sense, there are no risk factors or specific diseases that predispose to scaphoid fracture, but the injury usually occurs during sports activities or car crashes.

Although this type of fracture can occur in people of all ages, the people most likely to suffer this injury are men in their 20s and 30s.

Can it be prevented?

The main cause of this injury is a fall, so that a way to prevent it consists of avoiding to support the hand in hyperextension before a fall. This implies playing sports with a person in charge of supervising the practice or with professionals who can regulate the dangers that may appear during the activity.

In this sense, there are a series of tips that can be followed to prevent this type of fracture:

  • Use elements to protect the wrist.
  • To practice sport with a supervisor.
  • Avoid supporting the extended hand in the event of a fall.
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Treatments for the scaphoid fracture

When a scaphoid fracture occurs, the main treatment consists of placing a cast on the hand in order to immobilize the wrist.

However, depending on the characteristics of the fracture, surgery may be necessary. This surgical intervention consists of screwing the fractured bone in compression. The main advantage of surgery is that it does not require immobilization of the wrist, so that rehabilitation treatment can begin immediately.

Which specialist treats it?

The expert physician who is responsible for the treatment of scaphoid fracture is the Traumatology specialist.