Many slip-and-fall victims will feel relieved that they “just” jammed their hands or fingers during their accident. However, many of these victims end up in the emergency room days later, only to find that their “minor” injuries may take weeks or even months to heal properly.
Injuries You May Suffer if You Landed on Your Hand After a Fall
Your hand contains over two dozen bones and many more ligaments, any one of which can be broken or torn as a result of bracing a fall. The most common fractures victims may suffer when landing on their outstretched hands include:
- Broken hand. There are many bones that make up the hand. The metacarpals run from your wrist to the base of the fingers, and can be broken at any point along the hand. Metacarpals are often broken in more than one place, and can result in pain when making a fist if the bones do not heal properly.
- Broken fingers. If your fingers absorbed most of the impact, you may have suffered tiny fractures in the bones of your fingers (called phalanges). Each of your fingers contains three separate bones (each thumb has two bones), and victims may suffer multiple fractures due to the stress, weight, and angle of the fall. A broken finger can cause significant loss of function even after it has healed. Your finger may be shorter after the break, point in a different direction, or be unable to bend after healing.
- Broken wrist. If you fell directly on the palm of your hand, you may have suffered a fracture to the scaphoid bone. The scaphoid is the wrist bone at the base of the thumb, and is the point where the bones of the arm come together with the hand to form the wrist joint. In many cases, victims do not realize that their scaphoid bone has fractured in the fall; they may assume that they have sprained their wrists. However, a broken scaphoid will often cause the wrist to swell and become extremely painful in the days after the accident, at which point the victim may need surgery using screws to stabilize the bone as it heals.
Will You Need Hand Surgery After Your Fall?
Surgery for a broken hand depend on the extent of your injury. For minor breaks, a doctor may be able to realign the bones without surgery, and then brace the bones with a cast to allow them to heal straight. If your bones have been broken in several places, your doctor may use pins or screws to hold the bone together as it heals. In most cases, doctors will continue to x-ray your hand during the healing process to make sure the bones are maintaining their proper position as they knit back together.
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