Wrist fractures involving the scaphoid are relatively common but also more challenging to detect than other wrist fractures. That’s because the bone involved is so small that a fracture of the bone can be mistaken for a sprain. Scaphoid breaks aren’t always as painful or as swollen as breaks elsewhere in the wrist. Still, they need to be treated as quickly and as thoroughly as any other fracture.
The scaphoid is one of the larger bones in the wrist. It sits atop the radius, which is the main bone that runs down the center of your forearm. If damage to this bone isn’t appropriately treated, it can lead to later problems such as arthritis, numbness, loss of movement, and pain.
A scaphoid fracture can be caused by falls or accidents that cause excessive pressure on the joint. The fracture may not be as noticeable because there usually isn’t displacement of the bone or excessive swelling. There may be minor swelling or bruising, as well as pain.
If you suspect you may have sprained or broken your wrist, particularly after a fall or accident, make an appointment to get, the wrist checked right away. Delaying treatment can lead to improper healing and other issues further down the road.
Scaphoid fractures will need some form of imaging for proper diagnosis, which is why it’s essential to visit a doctor right away if you suspect a sprain or fracture. Your doctor may request an x-ray, CT scan, or MRI scan for proper diagnosis.
If a fracture is detected, you likely will need to wear some form of cast or wrist brace for a few weeks. The length of treatment will depend on the severity of the fracture. Treatment with over-the-counter pain medication is also possible, as is surgery for the most severe scaphoid breaks.