The scaphoid is a small bone located on the thumb side of the wrist, in the area where the wrist bends. The scaphoid bone is located at the base of the hand, below the thumb tendons. The scaphoid is the most common bone to break or fracture from a wrist injury. A scaphoid fracture is commonly caused by a fall on an outstretched hand, with significant weight landing on the palm. Pain or tenderness in this area can be a sign that the scaphoid has been injured.
Symptoms of a Scaphoid Fracture
When the scaphoid bone has been fractured, it results in pain, tenderness and swelling at the base of the thumb. The pain may intensify when moving the thumb or wrist or when trying to grip an object. The wrist may look bent or crooked, but there is not always a visible deformity. Numbness or stiffness may occur in the thumb or wrist.
Diagnosis of a Scaphoid Fracture
A scaphoid fracture is diagnosed through a physical examination and X-rays are performed to view the bones. If X-ray images are inconclusive and the fracture is not visible, an MRI scan may be performed to better visualize the bones and soft tissues.
Treatment of a Scaphoid Fracture
Treatment for a scaphoid fracture varies depending on the location of the fracture. If the fracture occurred closer to the thumb, the hand and arm (below the elbow) may be put in a cast. With the protection from the cast, the scaphoid fracture may heal on its own within a few weeks. Scaphoid fractures that occur closer to the forearm may be treated with a longer cast that extends above the elbow. However, in some cases, these fractures may require surgery to insert metal implants, such as screws and wires, to hold the scaphoid in place until the bone is fully healed. If the scaphoid bone has fractured into more than two pieces, a bone graft may be necessary to stimulate bone production and aid in healing.