What is a Scaphoid Fracture?
The scaphoid is a small bone located on the thumb-side of the wrist. Fracture is typically caused by a fall on an outstretched hand. This type of injury may occur during sports activity, such as snowboarding, or a motor vehicle accident.
Signs and Symptoms:
A patient may notice pain or swelling at the base of the thumb, which may increase during wrist movement or gripping. Scaphoid fracture is commonly mistaken for a sprain because the fracture is not visible without x-ray and the pain may not be severe.
Conservative treatment options are dependent upon the location of the scaphoid fracture. Fractures near the thumb will usually be placed in a cast below the elbow that may or may not include the thumb. Healing can be expected in a matter of weeks.
If the fracture is located in the middle (waist) or closer to the radius (proximal pole), healing is more difficult due to limited blood supply. If conservative methods are chosen, the cast will extend above the elbow and include the thumb.
A fracture of the waist or proximal pole of the scaphoid may require surgery, and even then may require substantial healing time. A wire or a screw will be placed across the fracture in order to stabilize the scaphoid. Different types of bone grafts, including vascularized bone grafts (with their own blood supply), may also be used to assist with healing. A cast will be worn for as many as six months following surgery.