An individual who sustained a broken or fractured thumb is a serious issue. This injury can affect the ability of the individual to hold objects. An individual with a fractured thumb face a higher risk of developing arthritis later in life.
Even though a break can occur in any of the bones in the thumb, the most serious breaks occur close to the joints. This is true if the fracture occurs at the base of the thumb close to the wrist. There are distinct forms of thumb fractures which depend on the form of break sustained.
What are the causes of a fractured thumb?
A fractured thumb is usually caused by direct stress such as a fall. An individual can end up with a fractured thumb once the ball catches and pulls the thumb back. Some cases can be caused indirectly such as twisted movements or muscular contractions that occur in football, wrestling, skiing and hockey. Those who have previous bone diseases or calcium deficiency face a high risk.
The risk for a fractured thumb can be reduced by utilizing protective padding, taping or other equipment. It is also recommended to develop strength in the hands through exercise and proper nutrition.
What are the symptoms?
- Intense pain in the fracture site
- Limited or inability to move the thumb
- Severe tenderness
- Numbness or coldness in the thumb area
- Deformed or misshaped appearance of the thumb
To learn to recognize and manage the symptoms of hand and finger injuries including a fractured thumb, register for first aid training here. In severe cases, a doctor should be consulted for proper treatment.
Diagnosing a fractured thumb
The doctor must be consulted right away if the individual sustained an injury to the thumb and a fracture is suspected. Delayed treatment will make it difficult to align the bones properly due to the persistent swelling and can lead to a poor outcome.
In most cases, a padded splint is used to prevent the bone from moving out of alignment. This is usually recommended before treatment is finalized.
Once the bone fragments of the fracture did not move or the break is situated in the middle of the bone, the doctor will utilize a specialized cast to support the bone fragments in place. The cast should be used for at least 4-6 weeks. During this period, regular X-rays are taken to ensure that the bone did not slip out of alignment.
Surgery might be required depending on the location of the fracture as well as the degree of movement between the broken bone fragments. One of the fixation techniques to realign the bone fragments will be used to hold the fragments in place while the bone heals.
These techniques involve the use of devices the hold the bone fragments in place either inside the body or outside the body. The internal fixation methods involve the use of pins, wire, screws and plates. As for external fixation techniques, it involves the use of pins in the bone that are held in place through their attachment to an external device.