There are eight carpal bones in the wrist that attach on one end to the forearm bones and on the other end to the hand bones. The scaphoid is the carpal bone that is situated near your thumb. It is commonly injured when one falls on an outstretched hand. Unlike other fractures it does not always leave an obvious area of deformity and swelling.
Symptoms of Scaphoid fracture
• Pain and tenderness on the thumb side of the wrist.
• Gripping may be painful.
• There can be some swelling on the back and thumb side of wrist.
• Pain may subside, then return as a deep, dull aching pain.
• Tenderness to pressure on the “anatomical snuffbox,” a triangular-shaped area on the thumb side of the wrist between two tendons that leads to the thumb.
Diagnosis and treatment
In most cases the doctor will be able to diagnose a scaphoid fracture and reduce the fracture back into place. The hand will then be placed in a cast for a period of immobilization to allow the fracture to heal. In some cases as the scaphoid has a poor blood supply the fracture does not heal so surgery is required.
Once the fracture is healed your physiotherapist will aim to regain full function of the wrist and hand. This would involve reducing any residual pain and swelling and gradually improving full range of motion and strength of the wrist. Finally your physiotherapist will guide you in your return to sport and educate you in preventative measures to prevent re-injury (e.g. taping).