A scaphoid fracture is a break of the scaphoid bone in the wrist. It typically occurs in contact and collision sports where an athlete falls on his outstretched hand. It is an injury that is commonly missed, as the athlete is diagnosed with a “wrist sprain.”

Treatment of a scaphoid fracture

Treatment is somewhat controversial. If the fracture is nondisplaced, a surgeon might recommend treatment with a cast. A fracture that is displaced should be fixed surgically.

Xray showing a scaphoid fracture

Surgery for a scaphoid fracture

Surgery involves putting a screw across the fracture to hold it in the proper position. In a high-level athlete, surgery is often recommended even for nondisplaced fractures. Screw fixation often allows the athlete to return to sports sooner, especially if he can play in a padded cast.

Risks of scaphoid fractures

This fracture needs to be diagnosed and treated quickly to avoid a nonunion. The blood supply to parts of the scaphoid is tenuous. Nonunion or healing of the scaphoid in a bad position can lead to a problem known as avascular necrosis. This can lead to degenerative changes in the wrist, which can be a debilitating problem long term.

Xray showing a scaphoid fracture fixed surgically with a screw

Also read:
Wrist injury: Common injuries of the wrist and hand in sports and exercise
Boxer’s fracture: Diagnosis, treatment and recovery from this difficult hand injury

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