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Broken Fifth Metacarpal: 5 At-Home Tricks to Treat it


Broken Fifth Metacarpal

A Broken Fifth Metacarpal is quite common but what is the fifth metacarpal bone? Look at your hand. The long bones which connect your fingers to the wrist are the metacarpal bones. The first metacarpal bone connects the thumb to the wrist. Whereas, the fifth metacarpal is the one connecting your smallest finger to your wrist. The fifth metacarpal is small, delicate and easily broken.

A broken fifth metacarpal bone is also called a boxer’s fracture or a brawler’s fracture. These names are due to the fact that this injury is normally caused by striking an object (hopefully not another person!) with a closed fist.

How is a broken fifth metacarpal diagnosed?

  • Broken metacarpal bones are normally diagnosed through a doctor’s exam and x-rays.
  • Symptoms typically include numbness, swelling, bruising, and discoloration of the hand.

How will my doctor treat my broken fifth metacarpal?

  • Upon diagnosis, your doctor will have determined how serious your fracture is and if it requires surgery.
  • Your doctor will probably send you home with some home care instructions.
  • Most often, these injuries heal quite nicely with minor at home care, provided you follow some good, old-fashioned first aid advice!

How should I care for my broken fifth metacarpal at home?

1. Ice: You’ve probably heard your doctor, your mother, your coach, and your eigth grade gym teacher give the same advice over and over again! ICE THAT INJURY!

  • Make a home ice pack by placing several ice cubes into a plastic zipper bag.
  • Then, wrap it in a kitchen towel and apply it to the injury.
  • Ice the metacarpal fracture at frequent intervals.
  • The ice will help reduce swelling and therefore discomfort.

2. Pain Relievers: If you have a mild 5th metacarpal fracture, and your doctor didn’t prescribe painkillers, you may want to take a non-prescription pain reliever.

  • You can use an over the counter ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
  • As always, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s dosage recommendations.
  • Also, you always want to be aware of any medication allergies you may have.
  • If you are unsure of dosing, please check with your local pharmacist.

3. An Elevated State: Elevation of the hand with the broken fifth metacarpal will assist in reducing the swelling of the area.

  • We know this advice is commonly given for first aid for many minor injuries.
  • It really does help minimize the swollen area! This should also alleviate some of the discomfort.

4. Immobilization: When you have a fifth metacarpal fracture, it will normally take around 6 weeks for your fracture to heal.

    • During that time, it is best to immobilize your hand with a splint.
    • You may also tape the affected finger to another finger.

5. Rest Your Injury

If you don’t want to splint or tape your metacarpal fracture, please give your hand a lot of rest! It deserves it after the trauma you have just done to it!

  • You should not grip, grasp, pull or lift with the injured hand.
  • It should also go without saying (but I will say anyway): please don’t punch, hit, or karate chop anyone or anything while you have a fifth metacarpal fracture!

These at home treatments are based on good, time proven first aid techniques. Follow these common sense tricks and your fifth metacarpal fracture should heal just fine.

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The Easiest Way to Repair a Metacarpal Fracture

Metacarpal Fracture

If you get in a fist fight, watch out for those metacarpals!! A metacarpal Boxer Fracture Xrayfracture is simply a broken finger. The easiest way to repair a metacarpal fracture is setting the finger.  It is the key to healing the broken bone.  Just like any other part of the body, the bone needs to be set after a break.  This helps it heal in proper alignment.

A Misnamed Fracture

Boxer’s Fracture is the name given to most metacarpal fractures.  Why is this break misnamed?  Most boxers are trained to protect their hands from such breaks.  A more fitting name for this injury would be a “Brawler’s Fracture”.

  • This fracture can occur in any of the four fingers, from the index to the pinky. However, most fractures occur on the fourth and fifth metacarpal (the pinky and the ring finger).
  • The break actually occurs near the knuckle where the bones are narrower and are more likely to break.
  • A metacarpal break  usually comes from a fist striking a solid object.

Recovery from your Boxer’s Fracture

  • Letting your bones slowly mend is the first step.  It is possibly the most important step in your recovery from a metacarpal fracture.
  • Keeping the bones stabile and comfortable is going to be another priority in healing.
  • You must also manage the swelling.  You can keep the area iced to reduce swelling.  It will also help with your pain relief.

See your Doctor before Treatment

  • Most doctors do not call for a hard cast in these kinds of injuries.
  • If there is a break to the skin with your metacarpal fracture, this is a more severe break.  It may need a hard cast. This is rare but it does happen.
  • Most minor metacarpal fractures heal with a finger splint, reduction of swelling, and several weeks of immobility.
  • A short physical examination of the affected metacarpals and an X-ray are generally enough to determine if you have a Boxer’s Fracture.

So keep a careful eye on those fist fights!! If you do get into one and break that metacarpal, your doctor can have you on the road to a full recovery in a relatively short amount of time.

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