Scaphoid (Wrist) Fracture

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What Is a Scaphoid Fracture?

A scaphoid fracture is a break of the carpal bones in your wrist. The scaphoid bone is located where your wrist bends on the thumb side of your hand.

A scaphoid fracture can occur when you fall on an outstretched arm and land with your weight on your palm. It causes pain in the thumb and wrist.

The best way for athletes to prevent a wrist fracture is to wear wrist guards when:

  • Ice skating
  • Rollerblading or roller skating
  • Skateboarding
  • Snowboarding
  • Playing other sports that might cause you to fall on your palm

Make an appointment for a scaphoid fracture

To make an appointment or learn more about scaphoid fractures, contact UPMC Sports Medicine at 1-855-93-SPORT (77678).

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Scaphoid Fracture Symptoms and Diagnosis

Scaphoid fracture symptoms and signs

Symptoms of a scaphoid wrist fracture may include:

  • Pain in your wrist and thumb.
  • Swelling at the base of the thumb.
  • Pain when you move your wrist.

Your wrist may not look like it's broken, and not everyone has severe pain with a scaphoid fracture.

If you have pain that lasts for a few days, call your doctor.

Scaphoid fracture diagnosis

To diagnose a scaphoid fracture, your doctor will conduct a physical exam. He or she will ask about the injury and your symptoms.

To confirm a scaphoid fracture diagnosis — and rule out a more serious wrist injury — your doctor might request other tests such as an x-ray.

If your x-ray is positive, you will need either nonsurgical or surgical scaphoid fracture treatment.

Make an appointment to diagnose scaphoid fracture symptoms

To make an appointment or learn more about scaphoid fracture symptoms, contact UPMC Sports Medicine at 1-855-93-SPORT (77678).

Learn more about scaphoid fracture symptoms and tests

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Scaphoid Fracture Treatment at UPMC Sports Medicine

Nonsurgical scaphoid fracture treatment

If the fracture happens near your thumb, wearing a splint or cast for four to six weeks is often enough to allow the bone time to heal.

At UPMC Sports Medicine, your doctor will track the healing and recovery process with routine x-rays or CT scans of your wrist.

Scaphoid fracture surgery

If the fracture is near the middle of your wrist or toward your forearm, your treatment may include scaphoid fracture surgery.

A break in this middle area doesn’t allow enough blood supply to flow to the fractured bone, which it needs to heal.

During scaphoid fracture surgery, your doctor will:

  • Make a small incision in your wrist.
  • Place a screw or wires to hold the scaphoid bone in place.
  • Put a cast on your wrist.

You will be in a cast for weeks or even months after surgery until the bone heals.

Scaphoid fracture recovery

Whether you had scaphoid fracture surgery or nonsurgical treatment — after your doctor removes your cast or splint — you will need to avoid:

  • Heavy lifting.
  • Sports with a high risk of falling on your wrist again.

Most wrist fractures require some form of rehab for a full recovery.

Your doctor may prescribe physical therapy to help:

  • Regain strength.
  • Restore range of motion in your wrist.
  • Relieve pain while the scaphoid bone heals.

Make an appointment for scaphoid fracture treatment

To make an appointment for scaphoid fracture treatment, contact UPMC Sports Medicine at 1-855-93-SPORT (77678).

Learn more about scaphoid fracture treatment

The links below will open a new browser window.

UPMC's HealthBeat Blog:

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