Each year, millions of dollars are spent on the medical treatment of pain associated with wrist injuries. While many adults are diagnosed with wrist sprain and strains, some are diagnosed with repetitive trauma injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome.
For some adults, however, the associated wrist pain may be the result of a fracture in the wrist. Because wrist bones are abnormally shaped and rather small, a fracture to any carpal bone is commonly misdiagnosed, especially in the first few days and weeks after injury occurs.
Of all of the carpal bones, the scaphoid bone is considered to be the one wrist bone at greatest risk for fracture. However, even with this information, man physicians still miss this fracture upon initial examination. While x-rays are a great tool for diagnosing fractures, many scaphoid fractures are missed on initial x-ray exams.
As you live with the pain and complications associated with a wrist injury, it is important to ask your physician to conduct a thorough examination, including diagnostic look, at the carpal bones of your wrist, especially the scaphoid bone. Without proper diagnosis and treatment, early, scaphoid bone fractures can lead to loss in grip strength, complications in range of motion and even the early onset or development of osteoarthritis of the carpal bones and wrist joint.
As part of the examination, your “snuffbox” should be evaluated and compared to that of the other hand. The snuffbox is the depressed area of the hand, on the outside, that rests between your thumb and wrist area. It is right below this area in which your scaphoid bone lies. For individuals who suffer from scaphoid injury, there will be marked pain and tenderness in the snuffbox, when the area is palpitated.
If you are found to have suffered a scaphoid fracture, the key focus will then be upon the displacement, or non-displacement, of the fracture. Non-displaced fractures heal the best and usually require little treatment except the use of splinting and occasional exercise to the hand.
In displaced fractures, there is a great risk for long term health complications, as stated, involving osteoarthritis and loss of grip strength. For this reason, when a displaced scaphoid fracture is confirmed, your doctor will most likely recommend surgical intervention.
As with any complication involving wrist pain, it is important to seek medical attention from a health care provider immediately. While many physicians are prone to diagnose the complication as sprain, strain or carpal tunnel syndrome, the fact is, many complaints of wrist pain involve scaphoid bone of the wrist and require further aggressive treatment.