How is a Broken Hand Treated?

M. DePietro

A broken hand could involve anyone of the twenty-seven located in the hand. If a broken hand is suspected, it’s important to seek medical treatment as soon as possible. Delaying treatment to the hand can lead to problems with healing and limited movement. Symptoms of a broken hand include, pain, swelling, bruising and the inability to grasp objects or bend the fingers.

A model of a human hand.
A model of a human hand.

The treatment for a broken hand may vary somewhat depending on the severity of the fracture. Some breaks may result in a bone protruding through the skin. If bleeding occurs, it needs to be controlled by putting a clean piece of gauze over the cut. Pressing too hard on the wound should be avoided. This can cause pain and possibly further damage.

It may be necessary to apply pressure using gauze to control bleeding.
It may be necessary to apply pressure using gauze to control bleeding.

A doctor will need to evaluate the hand even if it appears to be a minor or hairline fracture. Ice may be applied on the way to the hospital to help reduce swelling. An x-ray will be needed to evaluate the type and location of the fracture. The doctor will examine the hand and numbing medication may be injected into the hand to reduce pain.

A doctor should examine a broken hand and decide the best course of treatment.
A doctor should examine a broken hand and decide the best course of treatment.

There are two main types of hand fractures, including a closed fracture and a displaced fracture. If a break in the hand is considered a displaced fracture, it means the bones are not in proper alignment. A reduction will need to be done, which involves putting the bones back into the correct position. A splint will then be applied to immobilize the hand.

An x-ray is used to evaluate the type and location of the fracture in a broken hand.
An x-ray is used to evaluate the type and location of the fracture in a broken hand.

The other type of fracture is a closed fracture, which is a break in the hand without displacing the bones. This type of hand fracture does not require a reduction. Instead, the hand will be splinted to prevent movement while it heals.

Ice packs may help reduce the swelling associated with a broken hand.
Ice packs may help reduce the swelling associated with a broken hand.

A fracture which resulted in damage to the nerves or ligaments may require surgery. The type of surgery done will be determined by the extent of the damage. For example, a broken hand from a crushing injury may require screws or plates be placed in the hand to keep the bones together while the hand heals.

A hand splint may be useful in treating a broken hand.
A hand splint may be useful in treating a broken hand.

After the initial treatment for a broken hand, there may be varying degrees of discomfort. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory pain medication may help. Ice may help relieve swelling for the first 24 hours.

Delaying treatment for a broken hand can cause limited movement and a slower healing process.
Delaying treatment for a broken hand can cause limited movement and a slower healing process.

An individual may have stiffness, pain or limited mobility after breaking a hand. After the hand heals, some people may require physical therapy to improve function. The type of physical therapy used depends on the type of fracture and if nerve, joint or ligament damage was involved. Physical therapists use, heat therapy, nerve stimulation and range of motion exercises during therapy.

Plaster of Paris is used to make plaster casts for broken hands and wrists.
Plaster of Paris is used to make plaster casts for broken hands and wrists.

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Discussion Comments

Spotiche5

@raynbow- Your dad may not only be causing his broken hand not to heal, but the activities that he continues to do while it is in a hand splint may be making the break worse. Tell him to take some time off and relax until it has healed.

Ocelot60

@raynbow- Absolutely! Doing activities that involve hand movement of the broken hand will prevent the bones from setting quickly and properly. Your dad needs to take it easy until his doctor tells him that it is o.k. to get back to doing his normal activities.

Though it is very difficult to keep your hands still even when one is broken, it is vital to the healing process. Tell your dad to call on people for help so he can get his hand splint off sooner than later! Otherwise, the problem will just continue to be aggravated and his hand will not heal like is should.

Raynbow

Is is common for a broken hand to take a long time to heal? My dad is recovering from this type of break, and he was suppose to get his broken hand split off this week. When he went to his doctor, he told him he would have to wear it a while longer.

I think my dad has been too active too soon since his injury. Could this have caused a delay in the healing process?

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