Treating Hand Fractures

A fractured bone starts to heal on its own right away. But a treatment called reduction may help you heal better. Reduction is a process that repositions or "sets" the fracture. The goal is to get the fractured bone ends as close as possible to how they were before the injury. Your doctor will use one or more methods of reduction.

Image of cast and splints
A splint and cast both limit movement. They keep your finger or hand in the best position for healing.

Closed Reduction

If you have a clean break with little soft tissue damage, closed reduction will probably be used. Before the procedure, you may be given a light anesthetic to relax your muscles. Then your doctor manually readjusts the position of the broken bone. A splint or a cast will be worn while you heal.

Image of bone
A pin, screw, or plate with screws helps keep the bone stable and in place as it heals.

Open Reduction

If you have an open fracture (bone sticking out through the skin), badly misaligned sections of bone, or severe tissue injury, open reduction is likely. A general anesthetic may be used during the surgery to let you sleep and relax your muscles. Your doctor then makes one or more incisions to realign the bone and repair soft tissues. Pins, screws, plates, or a combination may be used to hold the bone in place during healing.

The Road to Healing

Fractures take about six weeks to heal. Keeping your hand raised can control swelling, throbbing, and pain. Your doctor may prescribe medicine that can help reduce pain. Don’t remove a splint unless your doctor says you can. Call your doctor if your pain gets worse or if you notice any excess swelling or redness.

Online Medical Reviewer: Barrus, Bryan, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Mitchell, Bryan Sean, MD
Last Review Date: 2/27/2012
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