Broken bones happen a lot in kids, including in the hands. And the orthopedic specialists here at Cook Children's have extensive training and experience in diagnosing, treating, and rehabilitating hand injuries. From kids to teens, we're here to make sure your child has the best chance at a full recovery.
A hand fracture is a break in any of the five long bones (metacarpals) between the wrist and the fingers. It causes pain and makes it hard to use the hand. Many people think that a fracture is different from a break, but they are the same (see Figure 1). There can be different variations of a fracture, including:
- Stable fracture, when the bone pieces are aligned
- Unstable fracture, when there are bone fragments that have shifted
- Comminuted fracture, when the bone is shattered into many pieces
- Open (compound) fracture, when a bone fragment breaks through the skin. This causes risk of infection.
Broken bones are not that unusual in kids, but some kids are at a higher risk for fractures if they have:
- Poor nutrition
- Problems with your bones that started when you were born
- Been playing contact sports
- Violent behavior around you
A hand fracture is caused by trauma to the long bones of the hand from:
- Punching a person or object with a closed fist
- Playing some sports
- Squeezing or crushing of the hand
A hand fracture may cause:
- Problems moving your hand
- Changes in the way your hand looks
The doctor will ask about your child’s symptoms, health history, and how the injury happened. The doctor will examine the hand. In many cases, the diagnosis can be made by the exam. However, mages may be taken to find out how much harm was done. This are usually done with x-rays.
CThe doctor will work with you and your child to determine the best treatment plan for your child. Most hand fractures heal without surgery. Your options may be:
A cast or splint may be needed to protect, support, and keep the hand fracture in line while it heals.
Exercises may be needed after the bone starts to heal. This will help with strength and function.
More severe fractures may need surgery. Screws, plates, or wires may be used to hold the fracture in place.
To lower your risk of a hand fracture, take these steps:
- Do not put yourself at risk for trauma to the bone.
- Always wear a seatbelt when driving or riding in a car.
- Do weight-bearing and strengthening exercises to build strong bones.
- Wear safety equipment when you play sports.
To lower your risk of falls at work and home:
- Clean spills right away.
- Remove things that can be tripped on, such as loose cords, area rugs, and clutter.
- Use nonslip mats in the bathtub and shower.
- Put grab bars next to the toilet and in the shower or tub.
- Put in handrails on both sides of stairs.
- Walk only in well-lit rooms, stairs, and halls.
- Keep flashlights on hand for a power outage.
In most cases, the hand will heal without any long-term problems. However, some severe breaks may limit full function after recovery, or affect the future growth of the broken bone. Most kids will be able to return to normal activities.