Scaphoid fracture

Hands | Orthopaedics | Scaphoid fracture (Disease)


The scaphoid bone is one of the eight small bones that make up the “carpal bones” of the wrist. There are two rows of bones, one closer to the forearm (proximal row) and the other closer to the hand (distal row). The scaphoid bone is unique in that it links the two rows together (see Figure 1). This puts it at extra risk for injury, which accounts for it being the most commonly fractured carpal bone.

Causes and Risk factors

Fractures of the scaphoid occur most commonly from a fall on the outstretched hand. Usually it hurts at first, but the pain may improve quickly, over the course of days or weeks. Bruising is rare, and there is usually no visible deformity and only minimal swelling. Since there is no deformity, many people with this injury mistakenly assume that they have just sprained their wrist, leading to a delay in seeking evaluation.

Diagnosis and Treatment

It is common for people who have fractured this bone to not become aware of it until months or years after the event. X-rays can show if a bone is broken and whether there is displacement (a gap between broken bones).

Sometimes, a broken scaphoid does not show up on an x-ray right away. If this is the case, your doctor may put your wrist in a splint for a week or two. A new x-ray will be taken to see if the fracture will become visible. The splint should be worn during this waiting period, and heavy lifting should be avoided.


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