Scaphoid Fractures

The scaphoid bone, located in the wrist, is commonly broken in a fall on an outstretched hand. A fresh fracture will result in pain, tenderness, and possible swelling around the wrist. However, lack of early detection can result in “non-union”—where the break doesn’t heal properly—that can be very subtle. Difficulty gripping, occasional pain, and arthritis can become problematic.

If a fracture is addressed immediately, a cast can ensure proper healing. No invasive procedures are then needed, but the cast must be worn for 8-12 weeks. Some patients do not want a cast for so long and they prefer to have surgery as it allows them to return to work early. The surgery requires only a small incision, and then a screw is implanted to connect the two pieces of the fractured bone.

However, in cases where a non-union has resulted surgery may be necessary to stop pain and  avoid the risk of arthritis. In these cases, fixation involves a single screw or a plate with screws  with the use of bone grafts from the hip or forearm as this can be helpful in building up degenerated bone. Recovery from these procedures  can take anywhere from 3-4 weeks in a simple case, or up to 10 weeks if bone grafting was needed.

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