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Metacarpal fracture

What is a Metacarpal Fracture?

A fracture is the same as a broken bone. The metacarpals are the bones that form the palm of the hand, a fracture is a broken bone therefore a metacarpal fracture is where one of these bones break. It is most common that the metacarpal near your knuckles break or the fifth one.

What causes a metacarpal fracture?

A metacarpal fracture is caused by a direct force or impact to the bone. It most commonly occurs when you hit something with your hand clenched. Depending on the severity of the fracture, surgery may be needed to put the bone back to into place.

How do I know if I have a metacarpal fracture?

You may have a metacarpal fracture if:

  • You have pain or swelling around the fracture site.
  •  You find it sore to move or touch things
  • Your finger could look different

If you have a metacarpal fracture it can be diagnosed by an X-ray by a physiotherapist or GP. You may need a splint or surgery depending on the severity of the fracture.

How can physiotherapy help with metacarpal fractures?

Once you have had an X-ray and the broken bone is found it is possible to give your GP or Physiotherapist a guide on how to help you. You will need to perform some simple tests to work out whether you need surgery. If you don’t need surgery, your physiotherapist will customise a splint to support the healing process.

As part of your treatment plan, your physiotherapist can use a number of techniques to help regain movement in your fingers, hand and wrist which include:

  • Home exercise programs
  • Soft tissue massage
  • Swelling management

What can I do at home?

In the early stages of your fracture, it is possible to use ice and compression which will reduce swelling. It is vital that you rest your hand and gently move your shoulder, other fingers and elbow to ensure they do not become stiff. It is also important that you follow direct instructions from your physiotherapist and wear your splint so that your recovery time is minimised.

How long will my recovery be?

It can take several weeks for your fracture to heal and about 6 weeks until you will be able to complete general everyday activities although this will be guided by your physiotherapist.

If you would like to find out more please call us or book an appointment here.

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Reference: Australian Physiotherapy Association 2019, Your Body, viewed 19 November 2019, < https://australian.physio/>.