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Scaphoid bone fracture

Scaphoid bone fracture occurs normally when a person falls on an outstretched hand. With the palm bearing the weight, there is the risk of forearm bone (distal radius) fracture too. The symptoms are pain and swelling in the wrist. If there is no deformity of the wrist, people generally tend to think that it is only a sprain. If symptoms like pain and swelling on the thumb side of the wrist after a fall last a few days, then it is advisable to see a doctor and get treated for the broken bone. Located where the wrist bends towards the thumb, Scaphoid bone is at the base of the small depression made by the thumb tendons. When the Scaphoid is injured, pain or tenderness is associated with it.

Consult a doctor if the pain on the thumb side of the wrist persists even after few days of medication. The orthopaedist will prefer to take X-rays, but sometimes a broken bone of this type does not show up clearly on an X-ray. A MRI helps in confirming scaphoid bone fracture. Minimize the risk of broken bones around the wrist by using wrist guards while performing activities like snowboarding and inline skating.


Depending on the location of the break in the bone, an orthopaedist starts the treatment. If it is broken at the end near the thumb which has good blood supply, healing takes place within a few weeks if it is protected properly. A CT scan or X-ray will confirm that the fracture has healed. A cast that may or may not include the thumb is a good option to heal this kind of Scaphoid fracture. If the Scaphoid is broken in the middle or at the proximal pole which does not have good blood supply, it is difficult to heal. The doctor places a cast that includes the thumb and index finger and extends up to the elbow.


In some cases, wrist arthritis may develop following a Scaphoid fracture. This may be due to the cartilage injury at the time of the fall or accident, or due to wear and tear from changes in the alignment of the joints. It may also be due to a cut off in blood circulation. Deterioration of the bone (avascular necrosis) at this part will lead to degenerative arthritis. Physiotherapy exercises and special exercises will improve movement and strength of the Scaphoid bones. Stiffness in the wrist and finger is not unusual after this injury.

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Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: December 10, 2017