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Scaphoid fracture

A scaphoid fracture is a break in one of the small bones in the wrist. This small bone is one the carpal bones on the thumb side of the wrist. It is central to the mobility and stability in the wrist. This bone has a weak blood supply, so early, accurate diagnosis and treatment is important.

Causes and risk factors

  • Most often occurs by landing on an outstretched hand
  • Sport activities
  • Automobile accident
  • These fractures occur in people of all ages


  • Pain and swelling on the thumb side of the wrist
  • Severe pain when wrist or thumb is moved
  • Loss of motion in the area
  • Increased wrist pain after more than a day

Diagnosis and treatment

Your doctor will examine your wrist for any swelling, bruising, and loss of motion, as well as tenderness to the area. Generally an x-ray will be taken, although they are not always able to detect scaphoid fractures in the first few days, so at times additional imaging is required. Depending on the fracture location, pattern and displacement, your doctor will discuss treatment options with you. Many times scaphoid fractures can be treated non-operatively with prolonged casting, but often surgery is advised. Regardless of treatment, scaphoid fractures generally take several months to heal.