The scaphoid is one of eight small bones that make up the “carpal bones” of the wrist.
It connects two rows of these bones - the proximal row (closer to the forearm) and the distal row (closer to the hand).
This connection puts it at extra risk for injury.
A fracture of the scaphoid bone usually occurs from a fall onto the outstretched hand.
Pain (with or without swelling or bruising at the “thumb side” of the wrist) can be noticed within days following a fall.
Because there is no visible deformity and no difficulty with motion, many people with this injury assume that it is a wrist “sprain.”
Unfortunately, delaying treatment can cause problems.
Visit a hand surgeon as soon as possible if you think you might have fractured your wrist.
Scaphoid fractures are usually diagnosed by an x-ray of the wrist; however, x-rays do not always show scaphoid fractures.
A break in the bone that cannot be seen on x-ray yet is called an “occult” fracture.
If you are tender directly over the scaphoid bone, your health care provider might recommend wearing a splint to be safe.
If pain persists, a follow-up exam and x-ray in a week or two can be used to diagnose.
A CT scan, bone scan or MRI may also be used to diagnosis the fracture.
If the fracture is non-displaced (bone has not moved out of place at the fracture), it usually can be successfully treated with a cast.
Although the fracture may heal in as little as six weeks, it may take longer for some patients.
If the fracture is in a certain part of the bone or if the fracture is at all displaced (bone ends have shifted), surgery might be the best option.
This might include the insertion of a screw or pins.
© 2014 American Society for Surgery of the Hand
Call EvergreenHealth Hand Surgery at 425.899.4810.