(Fifth Metacarpal Fracture)
Boxer's fracture]]> is a common name for a fracture of the long bone that connects the little finger to the wrist. This type of fracture may create several fragments. This is called a comminuted fracture. It may also be displaced. This means that the two ends of the bone are separated. In addition, the fracture may be:
- Closed—skin is not broken
- Open—skin is broken (often because it strikes a sharp object)
Bones in the Hand
These factors increase your chance of developing boxer’s fracture. Tell your doctor if you have any of these risk factors:
- Participating in contact sports (eg, boxing, martial arts)
- Advanced age
- Are exposed to violence
If you have any of these symptoms, do not assume it is due to boxer’s fracture. These symptoms may be caused by other conditions. Tell your doctor if you have any of these symptoms in your little finger:
- Lack of movement
- Depressed knuckle (a permanent bump may occur even after treatment)
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will also be done. The injured finger will be examined. Tests may include:
- Range-of-motion tests
- X-ray]]>—a test that uses radiation to take a picture of structures inside the body, especially bones
Treatment is usually effective. You may have stiffness and a permanent bump on the hand. Talk with your doctor about the best treatment for you. Options include:
- Rest—A cast will likely be applied to give your finger time to heal. You will need to limit use of your hand.
- Ice—Apply ice or a cold pack to the finger for 15-20 minutes, four times a day. Do this for several days after the injury. Wrap the ice in a towel. Do not apply it directly to your skin. This will relieve swelling. If you have a cast, check with the doctor to see if he wants you to apply ice.
- Elevation—To relieve swelling and pain, prop your hand on a pillow when you are sitting or lying down.
Surgery or Procedures
If the bones are not aligned correctly, they may have to be moved for proper healing. Once the bones are in place, you will have to wear a splint or cast for about six weeks.
Your doctor may recommend:
Your doctor may recommend range-of-motion and strengthening exercises once the fracture has healed. You may be referred to a physical therapist.
American Academy of Family Physicians
American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons
Canadian Family Physician
Canadian Orthopaedic Association
Acute finger injuries: part II: fractures, dislocations, and thumb injuries. American Family Physician website. Available at: http://www.aafp.org/afp/2006/0301/p827.html. Published March 1, 2006. Accessed February 4, 2010.
Hand fractures. American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00010. Updated October 2007. Accessed February 4, 2010.
Howson A. Discharge instructions for boxer’s fracture. EBSCO Patient Education Reference Center website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/thisTopic.php?marketID=16&topicID=1034. Updated November 1, 2009. Accessed February 4, 2010.
Poolman RW, Goslings JC, Lee J, Statius M, Steller, E. Conservative treatment for closed fifth (small finger) metacarpal neck fractures. Cochrane Collaboration website. Available at: http://www.cochrane.org/reviews/en/ab003210.html. Updated August 4, 2008. Accessed February 4, 2010.
Last reviewed March 2010 by ]]>Robert E. Leach, MD]]>
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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