What is a Boxers Fracture? How does this injury occur?

A boxer’s fracture means you have broken the head of one of the metacarpal bones in your hand (usually on the pinky finger side). Metacarpal bones connect the bones in your finger to the bones in your wrist. You might hear your hand doctor refer to it as a brawler’s fracture. This injury commonly occurs when the hand is in a fist and strikes a hard object such as a wall or another human. 

Symptoms of a boxer’s fracture:

  • The patient will experience instant, severe pain in the hand at the time of injury with swelling developing soon after the injury, possibly followed by bruising or discoloration.
  • The outside edge of the hand where the fracture is will be particularly tender to touch
  • Moving the hand will be painful
  • The knuckle on the outside may appear dropped

If you sense that you have fractured your hand you should seek medical attention immediately. An x-ray may be used to confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment:

  • If the fracture is displaced (the bones are out of alignment), the physician may need to reduce the fracture (put the bone back in place)
  • Conservative treatment usually consists of a simple splint or short arm cast for 3-6 weeks – may require longer immobilization dependent on healing
  • Surgery is rarer but sometimes suggested depending on the severity of the fracture. The main reason to operate on a Boxer’s fracture is if the 5th digit (pinky finger) is significantly rotated and it affecting the function of the 4th digit (ring finger).

Complications:

An untreated Boxers fracture can result in decreased grip strength, limited range of motion of the little finger, and finger deformity.  With proper treatment, complications are not common and usually minor if present at all.

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