The location of the break determines the treatment for a thumb fracture. A break near the base of the thumb, for example, frequently necessitates surgery. This is due to the difficulty a doctor may have in placing a splint or cast to the thumb. A splint or cast keeps the thumb in the proper position for healing. Additionally, it may be necessary to remove the nail from the injured thumb.
A broken thumb can cause serious problems if not treated properly. If the injury involves the hand by itself, then it is considered major. Otherwise, it is minor. The type of treatment required depends on several factors such as the extent of the injury, age of the patient, and so on.
Generally, thumb fractures can be divided into three types: stable, unstable, and complex. Stable injuries are those that do not involve any of the other bones in the hand. They can be treated with a splint or cast, which maintains the thumb in the correct position. Unstable injuries are those that involve the metacarpal (the bone behind the wrist) or phalanx (the bone at the end of the finger). These injuries require medical attention because they may be associated with ligament damage or tendon tears. Complex injuries are those that involve additional bones in the hand. For example, if a person has a comminuted (jagged) fracture, then they will need surgery to repair the damage. Comminuted fractures are more common in people who play sports like baseball or football.
Thumb Surgery for a Broken Thumb If you fear you have a fractured thumb, do not try to cure it at home. Some fractures, particularly those near the base of the thumb, may necessitate surgery. Screws may be required to stabilize the thumb in more serious injuries. A doctor can assess the severity of your injury and advise on the best course of treatment.
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Treatment Without Surgery Your doctor will generally repair your fractured bone without requiring surgery. You will be fitted with a splint or cast to keep your finger straight and safe from additional harm while it recovers. To give extra support, your doctor may splint the fingers next to the broken ones. These are called "adjacent" fractures.
With surgery Your surgeon will remove any debris from the fracture site and clean it up before repairing the break. They may also take muscle, tendons, or ligaments surrounding the joint out of alignment and replace them when restoring proper motion to the finger. In some cases, they will attach metal pins to the bones re-aligning them properly after the injury. These pins are later removed as the bone heals.
Without surgery Your doctor will simply put a bandage over the broken bone until it has healed. This is called a "splint". It may be worn at night so that you do not sleep with your hand exposed. Or, it may be used during the day while you perform simple tasks with the injured finger. The goal is to keep the bone in place while it heals.
Healing time For a finger fracture to heal properly it must be kept immobilized for the best results. Your doctor may recommend keeping the injured finger in a splint or cast for several weeks or months after the injury.