A metacarpal fracture involves damage to the tubular bones in the palm. The breakage typically occurs in the metacarpal bones of athletes especially those who engage in boxing. Remember that every digit in the hand has a corresponding metacarpal bone and any of these can be damaged during high-energy impact to the hand.
How is it diagnosed?
An individual usually sustained a forceful blow to the hand often due to a punching injury or direct blow from a fall or crushing injury. The hand is usually painful along with swelling. In addition, bruising also occurs directly over the injury. There is also difficulty when moving the fingers due to the pain from the metacarpal fracture.
During physical assessment, the hand is tender over the damaged metacarpal. There might be palpable fracture bony ends that can be felt if pressed. A vital aspect in the assessment is the presence of rotational deformity that can be checked if the individual creates a fist with the affected hand.
A metacarpal fracture can occur in any sport but the risk is highest among those where there is high-impact energy on the hand. This typically occurs among boxers and other forms of martial arts. Nevertheless, other impact sports such as rugby and football also increases the risk.
What are the causes?
A metacarpal fracture typically occurs once the hand strikes another object with significant force that the metacarpal bones shatter. This occurs when punching with a clenched fist.
In such cases, the knuckles strike directly on a hard object and all the force of the blow is focused directly via the metacarpals. This is the reason why boxers are prone to these fractures especially if one delivers a punch without using protective gloves.
A crushing injury to the hand can also result to a metacarpal fracture especially if the individual lands directly on his/her hand.
The initial treatment for a metacarpal fracture involves splinting of the hand. A soft wrap is typically used to allow some swelling to occur. The fingertips are usually out of the splint to allow some movement and prevent stiffness.
More Information / Disclaimer
The information posted on this page on a metacarpal fracture is for learning purposes only. Learn to recognize and manage broken bones including a metacarpal fracture by taking a standard first aid course with one of our training providers.