a.k.a. Boxer’s Fracture
A boxer’s fracture is a broken bone in the hand, specifically at the base of the fourth or fifth finger. The fracture occurs in the metacarpal, which extends from the base of the finger, or the knuckle, to the wrist. Such a fracture is named for its mechanism of injury, which is usually trauma to the hand through a punch. However, most professional boxers are trained to punch with correct form, which prevents such an injury from occurring in their sport.
Even so, fractures of the fourth or fifth metacarpal are some of the most common hand injuries. We see them in contact-sport athletes aside from boxers, such as football players, where there’s been an impact to the metacarpal bones with the hand in a clenched position. And, even though boxers should be trained to protect from such hand injuries, it is possible for them as well.
Nearly one-fourth of all metacarpal fractures happen to athletes. In cases where the injury is related to form, it is perhaps our biggest priority to teach our patients the correct form to protect from reinjury.
Patients who have a boxer’s fracture present with symptoms in the pinky and ring finger. There’s usually pain, swelling, bruising, and tenderness at the base of the fractured finger. Sometimes the injury causes a deformity, where the knuckle could appear to be missing or look flat, or the finger is misaligned. An injured patient has limited mobility in the finger, and will often have a weakened grip.
If you have recently had an impact trauma to your hand when it was in a fist shape, and are now experiencing these symptoms, we could assume it is a boxer’s fracture. However a thorough patient evaluation and physical examination will allow us to rule out other hand fractures. Then we can move forward with targeted treatment.
As always, treatment type and duration depends on the person and the injury. You may need to wear a cast or splint to keep the finger immobile so that the fracture can heal. After a period of four to six weeks, we can move into physical therapy for your hand. With our physical therapy program, we work towards getting you back to your full strength and range of motion. We may do hand exercises with light resistance, followed by functional activities.
Boxer’s fractures can be painful and frustrating. However, with our experience and innovative pain management tools like CBD and hot and cold therapy, we can help you move past this injury.