We see a lot of scaphoid fractures in our active clientele at MOTUS. This is one of the most common wrist injuries, particularly for athletes, where falling during play is a possibility. Recognizing and treating a scaphoid fracture immediately is important, otherwise complications can occur.
The scaphoid bone is the most commonly fractured of the eight small carpal bones that make up the wrist. Although it’s relatively strong compared to other carpal bones, the scaphoid is susceptible to damage because of its role and its location. It sits on the thumb side of the wrist, above the radius, and helps connect the two rows of carpal bones. The scaphoid is crucial to wrist stability, and allows for radial deviation and wrist extension.
The majority of scaphoid fractures occur in males in their early 20s, which is assumed to be because this group is more likely to participate in extreme sports or manual labor. At MOTUS, many of the scaphoid fractures that we treat occur in football players and basketball players. Their sports make them more likely to have a high impact injury to the wrist.
Almost all scaphoid fractures happen when a person falls onto an outstretched hand while their wrist is hyperextended. Any time a patient comes in complaining of pain or tenderness in the thumb side of their wrist after having fallen or jammed their wrist in another way,
we can suspect a scaphoid fracture. It’s important that we proceed carefully in determining the diagnosis. X-rays can be mostly accurate in detecting a fracture, but collecting patient history and performing an objective exam are also necessary.
Scaphoid fractures can have a lot of complications if their diagnosis is delayed. For this reason, athletes who have recently fallen or impacted their wrist in another way, and who are showing symptoms such as pain, tenderness, and bruising, should come in for diagnosis right away. Otherwise, union of the fracture could be delayed or unsuccessful, and grip strength and range of motion could be affected in the long run.
If you have had a fracture to the scaphoid, the first step is to get your wrist into an immobilization cast. After union has occurred, which usually takes six weeks or more, we can start recovery with physical therapy. We will work with you on range of motion and strengthening exercises. Once you’ve returned to your full range of motion and a solid foundation of strength, you can work towards returning to play.