The Sinister Scaphoid Fracture

The scaphoid is one of the eight carpal bones in the wrist.  This bone is very important to wrist strength, stability, and function.

Scaphoid fractures are a mystery.

The scaphoid is the most common carpal bone to be fractured.  This fracture can often be missed upon the first x-ray but is visible in a followup x-ray.  This can cause confusion. 

Scaphoid fractures can take a longer time to heal, or sometimes not heal properly.  Medical practitioners and patients themselves often report scaphoid fractures as challenging and frustrating. This is why a hand therapist and specialist are of upmost importance.  

The scaphoid bone is known to be the cornerstone of the wrist.  

The scaphoid is essential for both mobility and stability.  The complications of an untreated or poorly healed scaphoid fracture can cause lifetime effects.  Chronic wrist pain, loss of grip strength, wrist instability, and an increased risk of arthritis are some of the potential issues that can develop.  Early diagnosis and treatment are therefore crucial.

What to do if you suspect a scaphoid fracture.

First of all talk to a hand therapist. We are trained to know the specific signs and symptoms of a scaphoid fracture.  We will also know by the type and location of the fracture if you are likely to need to see and hand surgeon.  If you have a suspected scaphoid fracture and your normal x-ray views are not showing anything, your hand therapist will likely recommend second x-ray.  Specific scaphoid views or more sensitive imaging equipment such as a CT or MRI may be recommended.  An uncomplicated scaphoid fracture typically takes up to 2 to 3 months to heal.  However if you have an unstable or poor healing fracture, you may need surgery such as an internal fixation or bone grafting.  

Retuning to sports and physically demanding activities can often be a challenge following a scaphoid fracture.

With proper management and rehab, a good outcome is possible.  As the saying goes, ‘it’s better to be safe than sorry’.  You can potentially save yourself a lot of lifetime pain and frustration by attending to your scaphoid fracture early and properly.