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Treating Hand Fractures

A fractured bone starts to heal on its own right away. But a treatment called reduction may help the break heal correctly. Reduction is a process that repositions or "sets" the fracture. The goal is to get the broken bone ends as close as possible to how they were before the injury. Your healthcare provider will use one or more methods of reduction.

Closed reduction

If you have a clean break with little soft tissue damage, closed reduction will likely be used. Before the procedure, you may be given medicine to numb the area and relax your muscles. Then your healthcare provider manually readjusts the broken bone. A splint or a cast will be worn while you heal.

Open reduction

If you have an open fracture (bone sticking out through the skin), badly misaligned sections of bone, or severe tissue injury, open reduction may be needed. A general anesthetic may be used during the surgery to let you sleep and relax your muscles. Your healthcare provider then makes one or more cuts (incisions) to realign the bone and fix soft tissues. Pins, screws, plates, or a combination may be used to hold the bone in place during healing.

Front view of fractured bone showing three ways to close fracture: pins, screw, and plate.
A pin, screw, or plate with screws helps keep the bone stable and in place as it heals.

The road to healing

Fractures may take from 4 weeks to 4 months to heal. It depends on the bone and the severity of your injury. Keeping your hand raised can help control swelling, throbbing, and pain. Your healthcare provider may give you medicine to help ease pain. Don’t remove a splint or cast unless your healthcare provider says you can. Call your healthcare provider if your pain gets worse or if you notice lots of swelling or redness.

Online Medical Reviewer: Joseph, Thomas N., MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Walton-Ziegler, Olivia, MS, PA-C
Date Last Reviewed: 1/1/2018
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