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What is a metacarpal fracture?
A metacarpal fracture is also known as a boxer’s fracture, a bar room fracture or a scrapper’s fracture. The metacarpal bones bones are located between the finger bones (phalanges) and wrist bones (carpals), connecting them to each other. A metacarpal fracture is when one or more of the metacarpal bones are broken.
The most common cause of a metacarpal fracture is the result of a punch, hence the name boxer’s fracture. It comes when a clenched fist impacts with a hard object, typically when the force occurs at an angle towards the palm of the hand. This bends the bone too far, causing it to break.
Symptoms of metacarpal fracture can include:
- Swelling, discoloration and bruising in the affected area
- In some cases, the bone will break through the skin
A doctor’s examination can diagnose a metacarpal fracture, but an x-ray will be needed to see the location, level and type of fracture that has occurred.
In the least severe cases, a metacarpal fracture is treated with the application of a splint, to hold the broken bone in place to allow it sufficient healing time. However, in some cases the bone can become too misaligned for this route to be taken, and surgery will be required to put it back into place. This can include the fitting of screws and plates to hold it correctly.