What is a Scaphoid fracture?
A fracture of the scaphoid bone is the single most common type of carpal bone fracture that one finds in patients with wrist injuries. As with other fractures of the wrist, the scaphoid is typically broken by some sort of severe trauma to the wrist, such as a fall into the outstretched wrist. The scaphoid is at particular risk for fracture because of it’s position in the wrist, underneath the thumb and actually linking the two rows of carpal bones together.
What causes Scaphoid fractures?
As mentioned, the most common cause of a scaphoid fracture is a fall onto the outstretched wrist. It is natural for humans to want to break their falls with their hands, but this frequently results in them breaking the wrists.
What are symptoms of a Scaphoid fracture?
Unlike other wrist fractures, a fracture of the scaphoid is not outwardly apparent, due to the position of the bone. Although there is no outward deformity, this fracture can often cause intense pain below the thumb, but this pain can take several days to develop. There may be swelling as well as bleeding that forms bruises. One of the telltale signs of a scaphoid fracture is tenderness of what is known as the “snuffbox,” or radial fossa, which is the slight depression that forms in the wrist between two tendons when you extend your thumb.
How to diagnose a Scaphoid fracture
As with most fractures, a physical examination and a medical history usually serve to identify to the doctor pretty quickly the nature of your fracture. Generally, once the doctor knows how you were injured, it is more than likely that he will assume you have sustained a fracture of the scaphoid bone. An X-ray will help confirm the diagnosis, but there is a chance that in an early stage, if the fracture is not displaced, the X-ray will not indicate a fracture. If after two weeks the patient is still experiencing pain, and if the X-rays again show no fracture, it may be necessary to undergo an MRI scan, which should more accurately display the bone, and make a fracture easier to see.
Non-surgical treatment of a Scaphoid fracture
If you are lucky, and the fracture is detected early and is not displaced, it is likely that you will require only a cast, but it can take up to 12 weeks to heal. It is important that the scaphoid bone not move while healing, as it is very delicate, and even the slightest loss of alignment can have unfortunate consequences for the whole healing process. If after the period of casting the bone has not healed sufficiently, the doctor may also prescribe the use of a bone stimulator, which passes electric and magnetic currents through the bone and stimulates growth.
Surgical treatment of a Scaphoid fracture
The most common surgical treatment for a scaphoid fracture is percutaneous screw fixation, in which the two disconnected parts of the scaphoid are joined together with a small screw, and allowed to heal normally. This method generally allows for much faster healing than 12 weeks of wearing a cast, so if you lead an active lifestyle, this option will most likely be the best for you. In some cases if the fracture doesn’t heal, a scaphoid non-union, a bone grafting may be neccessary, which entails the doctor taking pieces of bone from another part of the wrist and placing it between the two parts of the scaphoid. The goal of this is to have the healthier bone encourage growth of the scaphoid, so that it can join together in a cohesive unit.
How can Dr. Knight help you with a Scaphoid fracture?
Scaphoid fractures are common, and often patients do not seek medical attention until the pain has become unbearable. Dr. Knight will quickly diagnose the problem and settle on a course of action that best fits your injury and lifestyle. He will also work quickly to avoid any complications, which may arise if the injury is left too long untreated.
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