Hand Fracture

A broken hand, also called a fractured hand, can occur either in the small bones of the fingers or the long bones in the main part of the hand. A broken hand can occur from a twisting or crushing injury, from a fall or from a sports injury.

Symptoms of a Broken Hand

After you suffer a hand injury, it’s important to be mindful of the following symptoms. You might not have all of them. However, if you experience one or more, seek a fractured hand treatment from one of our orthopedic doctors located in Milwaukee or throughout Southeast Wisconsin.

  • Swelling
  • Tenderness
  • Deformity
  • Inability to move the finger
  • Shortened finger
  • Finger crosses over its neighbor when making a partial fist
  • Depressed knuckle

Diagnosing a Broken Hand

Your Midwest Orthopedic Specialty Hospital doctor will perform an examination of your hand, checking the position of the fingers, range of motion and determining if there is any numbness in the fingers consistent with nerve damage. He or she will order X-rays to positively determine a fractured hand.

Treatments for Hand Fractures

Conservative (Non-Surgical) Treatments

With most fractured hand treatments, the bones can be realigned without surgery. You will typically be placed in a cast, splint or fracture-brace to immobilize the broken hand bones and hold them in place. The cast will probably extend from the fingertips up past the wrist almost to the elbow. This broken hand treatment ensures that the bones do not move. You will likely undergo a second set of X-rays about a week later to ensure that the broken hand bones have remained in the proper position.

The cast for your hand fracture is usually worn for three to six weeks. Gentle hand exercises can probably be started after three weeks. Afterward, the finger may be slightly shorter, but this should not affect the ability to use the hand and fingers.

Broken Hand Surgery

Hand surgery is sometimes required when the bones are unstable as in a compound hand fracture in which bones visibly pierce the skin. Fractured hand surgery is also necessary if bones are shattered, often the result of a crushing injury. If your hand requires surgery, your doctor can implant wires, screws or plates in the fractured hand to hold the pieces of bone in place.

After the hand fracture has healed, the surgeon may remove the implants or may leave them in place. The physician may want to examine the hand periodically to ensure that the joint doesn’t tighten (contract) during healing.

Joint stiffness after a hand fracture surgery may be experienced due to the long immobilization period. Recovery exercises can help restore strength and range of motion. A physical therapist in our orthopedic rehabilitation program can help you with this.