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Broken Hand – Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

What is a Broken Hand?

The hand is one very essential part of the human body because we are so dependent on our hands that a small injury or loss of function can lead to a major disability. To be able to understand the injury that may happen to our hands, it is also worth it to know the basic anatomy of the human hand, including the terms that most doctors use in describing them.

  • Carpal bones are the eight (8) small bones connecting the hand and the long forearm bones. Carpals are not really part of the hand but they function to ensure full hand motions.
  • Metacarpals are the five (5) bones that make up the palm of the hand.
  • Phalanges are the fourteen (14) smaller bones that form the thumb and the fingers. The thumb is composed of two (2) phalanges while each of the remaining four fingers consists of three (3) phalanges.
  • MCP joint (metacarpophalangeal joint) is known in layman’s term as “knuckles”.
  • PIP and DIP joints (proximal interphalanageal joint and distal interphalangeal joint, respectively) are the joints that are found in the fingers. From the word proximal alone, it means that the PIP is closer to the palm than the DIP which is distal.
  • From outer to inner part, the fingers are known to be the thumb, index, long, ring, and pinky.
  • To designate hand dominance, one can be left-handed or right-handed.

Broken Hand Symptoms

As the hand is quite visible, so are the following symptoms, which are quite obvious when there is damage or injury to the hand.

  • Severe pain can be felt, which results limitation of motion.
  • Swelling and tenderness are just two of the most common indications that there is an injury. This happens because of the presence of inflammation.
  • Sometimes when the impact is too much for the fragile bones to sustain, it will cause deformity to the finger, causing to anatomical misalignment.
  • Just like any other part of the body if injured, it would not be able to function fully because of some limitation such as pain, muscle spasm, etc.
  • The hand is very important in performing our daily activities such as eating, writing, combing, and all activities that involves grasping. If the thumb alone is injured, it would cause 40% damage to its function, meaning since the thumb is always needed in most of our activities, then it would be a major disability to anyone who would injure any part of the hand.
  • It is always evident that after an injury there is pain secondary to inflammation and perhaps fractures. Since the person injured would have the tendency to be protective to the part that is injured, movement is usually very limited.

Broken Hand Causes

The hand can be injured by the following instances:

  • Falling onto an outstretched hand is the common mechanism of injury to the hand. This is usually encountered in sports activities such as basketball, football, etc. Once there is an impact, the tendency is that the person involved would stretch his hand; therefore the force would travel to the bones in the hand up to the arms. When it reaches to the smaller and fragile bones, then it would cause resultant breakage or fracture, causing injury.
  • Sports injuries most especially contact sports are also situations that predispose people to falls and falling on outstretched hand is still a common scenario. In-line skating and snowboarding, among others, are the two common sports that would lead to injury to the hand.
  • High-velocity motor vehicular impact would surely create damage to the areas of the body that are vulnerable to fracture. And one of those areas is the hands, especially when one is driving a motorcycle. A simple crash can indeed result to simple or complex deformity.

Broken Hand Treatment

Rest and Immobilization

This is very important most especially in acute cases. Restriction of movement is very critical to its healing that this should be properly done. Immobilization can be done by the use of a splint or cast.


Medications to relieve pain and reduce the inflammation are the mainstay drugs in the treatment of injury to the hand and in any other parts of the body. Over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen are often recommended by the physician.

Physical Therapy

After the cast is removed, exercises and activities should be done to rehabilitate the injured hand to slowly bring it back to its functional level.

Surgery and Other Procedures

Some injuries are fortunately simple that can be treated conservatively; however, there are severe instances that surgical procedures such as metal implants, screws, and plates might be needed to ensure safety and early return to near normal function.

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