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How Long does it Take for a Broken Metacarpal Bone to Heal?

a patient having their hand evaluated

Metacarpal fractures, which are a type of hand fracture, are common and account for 10% of all fractures. If you have this type of injury, it’s important to seek medical attention to help preserve the full range of strength and mobility in your hand. Fortunately, recovery is typically very good for this type of injury.

In this blog, Long Island orthopedic hand surgeons Dr. Ather Mirza and Dr. Justin Mirza of Mirza Orthopedics explain how long it can take for a broken metacarpal bone to heal.

What is a metacarpal fracture?

A metacarpal fracture is a break in one of the five bones in your hand that connects your wrist to your thumb and fingers. These bones are located within your palm, and each one corresponds to one of your fingers.

How does this type of fracture occur?

A metacarpal fracture can occur because of the following:

  • An injury from contact sports like boxing, martial arts, football, and rugby
  • Osteoporosis
  • Traffic accidents
  • Blunt trauma (such as an injury that crushes your hand)
  • Accidental fall (such as falling from a bicycle)
  • Punching a solid object with a closed fist
  • Having an object fall on your hand or hit it at a high rate of speed

What symptoms does it cause?

This type of fracture can cause one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Tenderness
  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Deformity
  • Stiffness or inability to move finger
  • Numbness in hand or finger
  • Finger crosses over the one beside it when you make a fist
  • Depressed knuckle

How is it treated, and how long does it take to heal?

Metacarpal fractures usually take about six to eight weeks to heal. You’ll probably have to wear a splint as part of your treatment. It covers part of your fingers and both sides of your hand and wrist, and you’ll most likely wear it for around three weeks. You may also undergo physical therapy.

In some cases, metacarpal fractures require surgery. This may be true under the following conditions:

  • The pieces of bone have moved.
  • The fracture went through the skin (or nearly did so).
  • Your pain is severe and is worsening.
  • Your fingers don’t line up correctly.

In addition, if the metacarpal bones that line up with the ring and small fingers are the ones that are slightly deformed, you may not need surgery. These fingers have a greater range of motion and can more easily compensate for the injury.

What happens during surgery?

You’ll either be sedated or put under general anesthesia before your surgery. An orthopedic surgeon can realign the fracture and fix it in place with hardware such as pins and screws. The fracture may then be immobilized in a cast to protect both the incision and the fracture.

After the broken bone has healed, your surgeon may remove the hardware or leave it in place. Your hand may need to be checked from time to time to make sure the joint doesn’t tighten during healing. In addition, you may need physical therapy to help restore the strength and range of motion that can lessen after your finger was immobilized.

If you may have broken a bone in your hand, make an appointment for an evaluation today with Mirza Orthopedics. We’ll provide care that combines technical expertise with compassionate care to help you regain your hand’s strength and mobility.

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