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I fell on my wrist and hand, and it still hurts. Should I be worried?

Rachel Rohde, MD
Orthopedic Surgery

Scaphoid fractures result from a fall onto your outstretched hand. You might have pain, swelling, and/or bruising. This commonly is misdiagnosed as a “sprain” and unfortunately not discovered until long after the injury.

Initial X-rays might or might not show the fracture. If you have a lot of tenderness at the “snuffbox” at the base of the thumb side of the wrist, a scaphoid fracture should be suspected and you should be placed in a splint and reevaluated in a few weeks, when the break might be more visible on the X-ray. An MRI also can be used to determine early whether there is a fracture.

There may be cause for concern if you feel that the pain is not resolved after 7 to10 days. There are 8 bones that make up the wrist joint, and unfortunately, some of them do not receive good supply of blood (specifically, the scaphoid bone). Lack of blood slows or even prevents healing of injured tissue. This becomes a serious issue if any of these bones are broken (fractured). If left untreated, the fractured bone could eventually die (necros) and result in a significant loss of function and movement at the wrist. If you suspect that you may have injured this area, consult a physician. Fractures of the hand are most often seen and diagnosed on X-ray.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.