What is a boxer’s fracture?
— A “fracture” is another word for a broken bone.
A boxer’s fracture is when a person breaks a specific part of one of the hand bones. The hand bones are also called the “metacarpals”. The hand bone involved in a boxer’s fracture is the bone between the little finger (pinky) and the wrist.
Even though this fracture is called a boxer’s fracture, it does not usually happen in boxers. Instead, it usually happens when people punch a wall or other hard object.
What are the symptoms of a boxer’s fracture?
— Symptoms of a boxer’s fracture can include:
●Pain in the area of the fracture
●Swelling, usually on the back of the hand
●Bruising, usually on the palm of the hand
●The little finger or side of the hand looking like it’s bent in an abnormal position
Is there a test for a boxer’s fracture?
— Yes. Your doctor or nurse will ask about your symptoms, do an exam, and order an X-ray of your hand.
How is a boxer’s fracture treated?
— Treatment depends on how severe the fracture is.
If you have an open cut with your fracture, your doctor will wash the cut out well. He or she will also give you a tetanus shot if it’s been too many years since your last one.
For the first few days after your injury, your doctor will probably recommend one or more of the following:
●Resting your hand
●Keeping your hand up above the level of your heart (as much as possible) – This is helpful only for the first few days after an injury.
●Putting ice on your hand – You can put a cold gel pack, bag of ice, or bag of frozen vegetables on the area every 1 to 2 hours, for 15 minutes each time. Put a thin towel between the ice (or other cold object) and your skin. Use the ice (or other cold object) for at least 6 hours after the injury. Some people find it helpful to ice up to 2 days after the injury.
●Taking pain medicine – If you have a lot of pain or a severe fracture, your doctor will prescribe a strong pain medicine. If your fracture is mild, your doctor might recommend that you take an over-the-counter pain medicine. Over-the-counter pain medicines include acetaminophen (sample brand name: Tylenol), ibuprofen (sample brand names: Advil, Motrin), and naproxen (sample brand name: Aleve).
●Wearing a splint – Wearing a splint keeps your hand bones in one position so that the fracture can heal. But before your doctor puts the splint on your hand, he or she will make sure your hand bones are in the correct position. If your bones are not in the correct position, he or she might need to do a procedure to put your bones back in the correct position.
Later on, you might need surgery to fix your hand bones. Whether you need surgery depends on your fracture.
You might also need to work with a physical therapist (exercise expert) after your fracture heals. The physical therapist will show you exercises and stretches to strengthen your hand and finger muscles and keep them from getting stiff.
How long does a boxer’s fracture take to heal?
— A boxer’s fracture usually takes 4 to 6 weeks to heal, depending on the type of fracture.
Healing time also depends on the person. Healthy children usually heal much more quickly than older adults or adults with other medical problems.
Can I do anything to improve the healing process?
— Yes. It’s important to follow all of your doctor’s instructions while your fracture is healing.
Plus, doctors usually recommend that people with a fracture:
●Eat a healthy diet that includes getting enough calcium, vitamin D, and protein
●Not damage their splint or get it wet
●Stop smoking – Fractures can take longer to heal if people smoke.
When should I call my doctor or nurse?
— After treatment, your doctor or nurse will tell you when to call him or her. In general, you should call him or her if:
●You have severe pain, or your pain or swelling gets worse.
●You have numbness or tingling in your fingers, or your fingers look blue or purple.
●You damage your splint.
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