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Boxer’s Fracture

Boxer’s Fracture

Boxer's fracture is a common name for a fracture of the long bone that connects the little finger to the wrist.

The types of boxer's fractures are:

  • Nondisplaced — the bone is broken but remains in place
  • Displaced — ends of the bone are separated from one another
  • Comminuted — the bone is broken into several pieces

Fractures may either be:

  • Closed — the fracture does not break the skin
  • Open — the fracture breaks through the skin

Bones in the Hand

Bones in the Hand

Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes

Boxer's fracture can be caused by:

  • Punching another person or object, such as a wall, with a closed fist
  • Falls
  • Playing certain sports
  • Squeezing or crushing of the hand

Risk

Boxer's fractures are more common in men. Other factors that increase your chance of a boxer's fracture include:

  • Participating in certain sports, such as boxing or football
  • Advancing age
  • Osteoporosis
  • Certain diseases or conditions that result in bone or mineral loss, such as abnormal or absent menstrual cycles or post- menopause
  • Certain diseases and conditions that weaken bones, such as tumors or cysts
  • Decreased muscle mass

Symptoms

A boxer's fracture may cause:

  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Deformity
  • Lack of movement
  • Depressed knuckle

Diagnosis & Treatment

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history and perform a physical exam. Tests may include:

  • Range-of-motion tests
  • X-rays

Proper treatment can prevent long-term complications or problems with your finger or hand. Treatment depends on how serious the fracture is, but may include:

Initial Care

Extra support may be needed to protect, support and keep your finger in line while it heals. Supportive steps may include a splint, brace or cast.

Some fractures cause pieces of bone to separate. Your doctor will need to put these pieces back into their proper place. This may be done with or without surgery.

Medications

Your doctor may recommend:

  • Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAIDs)
  • Prescription pain relievers
  • Antibiotics if an infection is present or possible

Depending on your vaccination history, you may need a tetanus or other shots.

Rest and Recovery

Healing time varies by age and your overall health. In general, it takes up to 6 weeks for a boxer's fracture to heal.

You will need to adjust your activities while your finger heals, but complete rest is rarely required. You may need to ice and elevate the hand at rest to help with discomfort and swelling.

Physical therapy or rehabilitation may help with range-of-motion and strengthening exercises. Do not return to activities or sports until your doctor gives you permission to do so.

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Content was created using EBSCO’s Health Library. Edits to original content made by Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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