Fractured Hand: Do I Need Surgery?

Fractured Hand: Do I Need Surgery?

Posted on 12/31/2020

You use your hands for almost everything you do. Unfortunately, hands also bear the brunt when it comes to falling items, falls, trips, and other types of accidents. Sometimes, such incidences can lead to hand fractures, which can be minor or major. Hand fractures can affect the end of the bone or the middle. All cases can be very painful. They can also limit your ability to use the fractured hand.

What Causes a Hand Fracture?


Many bones form the supporting framework of the hand, which acts as an attachment point for muscles that make the fingers and wrist move. When a knock, fall, or any other accident applies enough force to your bone to break it, a fracture will occur. Consequently, you will experience swelling, stiffness, pain, and decreased use of your injured hand. Some fractures can lead to defects such as a crooked finger, but most do not.

Types of Fractures

A bone fracture, essentially, is the same thing as a break. You may suffer a simple/minor fracture with pieces of the bone stable and aligned. Major fractures, on the other hand, are unstable, and fragments of bone tend to shift or move. Also, some hand fractures happen in the main body of the bone, which is the shaft. However, others break the joint surface.

A compound or open fracture happens when there is a fragment of bone protruding through the skin, which increases the risk of infection. A comminuted fracture is also often unstable and results from a high energy force.

Do You Need Surgery?

First, the doctor will perform a careful physical examination of your hand and fingers. During this examination, he or she will ask about your symptoms and look for the following:

  • Bruising and swelling.

  • Joint stability.

  • Deformity.

  • Numbness in your fingers, which can be a sign of nerve damage.

  • Overlapping of your fingers.

  • Limited range of motion.

  • Lacerations and cuts to the area around the injury.


In most cases, your doctor will test the tendons in your hand for proper functioning. He or she will also check for joint stability near the fracture. You may also need to undergo one or more X-rays to help identify the extent and specific location of the fracture.

Non-Surgical Treatment


If your hand fracture does not line up in the appropriate position, your doctor will gently manipulate the bone fragments to realign them back into position. In most cases, doctors will do this without having to make any incisions. After the realignment procedure, known as a closed reduction, the doctor will apply a brace, splint, or cast. The aim is to keep the bones in the right alignment as they heal.

To support the bones of your hand properly, the doctor may apply a cast that extends from your elbow to your fingertips. You will probably need to undergo another set of X-rays about one or two weeks later to ensure the bones are healing properly. You may need to wear the cast for three to six weeks, depending on the stability and location of the fracture.

Surgical Treatment


Some fractures of the hand, such as open fractures, require surgery to stabilize and realign the bone fragments. In this case, your doctor will make an incision to allow for the repositioning of the bone fragments into their proper alignment. He or she may also use tiny metal devices, such as plates, staples, pins, screws, or wires, to hold the fractured bone fragments in place.

You may need to wear a cast or splint for a while after surgery to protect the fracture. Sometimes, your bone may change position during healing, which can affect the functioning of your fingers. If this happens, your doctor will recommend certain range-of-motion exercises.

To know more about fractures, visit East Bay Hand and Upper Extremity at our offices in Oakland, California. You can also call 510-904-1100 to book an appointment today.


Please contact us today to schedule an appointment or get more information about our hand and upper extremity surgical services.