What is a Thumb Fracture?
A thumb fracture is a common injury that happens when the bones of the thumb break. The break can happen in either of the two bones of the thumb.
There are specific types of thumb fracture. Examples of which are Bennett and Rolando fractures. These thumb fractures occur at the base of the thumb.
Most thumb fractures are a result of direct stress to the thumb. This can be due to a fall from a significant height, an automobile accident, or an injury from high-impact sports.
Symptoms of a Thumb Fracture
The most common symptoms of a thumb fracture include severe pain, noticeable deformity of the thumb, a tender sensation when touched, numbness or coldness, and limited range of motion of the thumb.
Diagnosing a Thumb Fracture
To diagnose a thumb fracture, the doctor has to assess the injured site. He/she will look into noticeable deformities, contusions, and swelling within the thumb. The patient’s medical history will also be reviewed to determine the cause and nature of injury.
In most cases, x-rays will be ordered to confirm the diagnosis. It also helps in evaluating further the fracture especially if it is displaced (the pieces of the cracked bone have separated). It will help identify the exact location of the fracture as well as determine the extent of the injury.
How It Is Treated
The treatment options for a thumb fracture will depend on several factors, which include the type of fracture and the severity of the break in the bone.
A thumb fracture can be treated nonsurgically if the bone fragments are not displaced or if the break happens in the shaft (middle part of the bone).
To hold the bone fragments in the place, the doctor will use a specially designed cast. This has to be worn in 4-6 weeks. X-rays may be taken on a regular basis to make sure that the bone is healing well and has not slipped out of alignment.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and antibiotics may also be prescribed to reduce the pain, swelling, and risk of infection.
Surgery will only be done if the bone fragments can’t be put back in place through the use of a cast. It may also be recommended if there is a lot of movement between the broken fragments of the bone.
A common surgical option for treating a thumb fracture is open reduction internal fixation (ORIF). This procedure aims to realign the fractured bone to its original position. The surgeon will use screws, rods, or plates to stabilize the fractured bone under the skin.