Surgical and Nonsurgical Options for Treating Hand Fractures
Dr. Gregg Vagner offers both surgical and nonsurgical options for treating hand fractures at his Austin, TX, practice. Your hand is made up of over 20 different bones, including short carpals, phalanges, and metacarpals. These bones serve as a support system for the muscles within your wrist and fingers. If a bone is fractured or broken, it can inhibit proper movement and cause severe nerve and tissue damage when the fracture is not addressed immediately. Fortunately, Dr. Vagner has many years of experience and can use either conservative nonsurgical treatment or perform surgery to ensure proper healing.
Which Bones Are Contained within the Hand?
Hand Anatomy: Incredibly Engineered
Each hand consists of 27 unique bones that serve as a framework for your muscles, tissues, nerves, and skin. These bones work together to promote proper hand function. The bones in your hand are broken down into three different groups:
- Carpals: Bones within the base of your hand that connect your hand to your forearm. Also referred to as your wrist bones.
- Metacarpals: Long bones within the middle of the hand that connect your carpals and phalanges and are responsible for the movement of your knuckles. Ten percent of all hand fractures occur in the metacarpals.
- Proximal, Intermediate, and Distal Phalanges: These 14 long bones all connect to each other and make up your thumb and fingers. The majority of hand fractures occur to the phalanges.
Types of Hand Fractures
The four most common hand fractures are stable fractures, unstable fractures, comminuted fractures, and compound fractures. A stable fracture is minor in scale, as there is still proper alignment of the bone fragments. With unstable fractures, the bone fragments have shifted and will need to be realigned before treatment. A comminuted fracture is a severe condition where the bones have been shattered into multiple pieces, requiring significant repair. Finally, with a compound fracture, not only have the bones been shattered, but they have pierced the skin, increasing your risk for infection. This, too, will require significant repair.
Symptoms of a Hand Fracture
The side effects of hand fractures vary depending on the type and severity of the break, but you should seek medical attention as soon as possible if you are experiencing symptoms such as:
- Swelling, pain, stiffness, or tenderness
- Hand deformity or shortened finger
- Inability to move hand, wrist, or fingers
- Depressed knuckle
- Tingling and loss of feeling within your fingers
If you are concerned you have a fractured bone within your hand, it is imperative that you schedule an appointment with Dr. Vagner as soon as possible in order to prevent further damage from occurring.
Available Treatment Options for Hand Fractures
Dr. Vagner can perform a physical examination of your hand that includes x-ray technology and MRI imaging to determine the exact location of the break. It can also help him detect if any adjacent nerves, tendons, and ligaments have been damaged. Once he has adequately reviewed the x-rays, he can create a treatment plan to help restore your hand back to full function.
For a simple break, Dr. Vagner can generally perform conservative treatment by immobilizing the joints with a cast or splint. For more complex cases, such as an unstable, comminuted, or compound fractures, surgery is generally required to realign the bone fragments with plates and screws before the hand is wrapped in a cast. In cases where the bone is protruding through the skin, extensive surgery will be required to realign the bone and repair the damaged skin. After carefully repairing the broken bone, Dr. Vagner can include an external fixation device to help keep the bone stabilized.
Dr. Vagner will supply you with a brace to help keep the hand elevated and will send you home with at-home care instructions to assist you with your recovery. He will carefully monitor the break through a series of follow-up appointments that will include x-ray imaging to ensure you are properly healing. Your recovery could take anywhere from six weeks to six months, depending on the severity of the break.
Contact Us Today
If you are concerned you have a fractured bone within your hand, it is imperative that you schedule an appointment with Dr. Vagner as soon as possible in order to prevent further damage from occurring. You can schedule an appointment online or call (512) 476-2830 to speak to a member of our team.
"I am committed to using experience, along with the latest techniques and technologies, to help my patients achieve the full function, mobility, and comfort in their hand, wrist, and arm that they experienced prior to their injury."Dr. Gregg Vagner