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Possible Scaphoid Fracture of the Wrist: Care Instructions

Your Care Instructions

You may have a scaphoid fracture. This is a break in a small bone on the thumb side of your wrist. It can cause pain and swelling in the wrist and make it hard to move your wrist or thumb. Treatment for this type of break includes wearing an arm cast or splint and, in some cases, having surgery.

Even if the first X-rays don't show a break, there may be one. So the doctor will want you to wear a splint to protect the injured wrist. It is better to do this than risk not treating a fracture and possibly delay healing. You will need a follow-up X-ray in 1 to 2 weeks.

It is important to follow the doctor's instructions, because parts of the navicular bone do not have a good blood supply. This can make healing slow and difficult if the bone is broken.

The doctor has checked you carefully, but problems can develop later. If you notice any problems or new symptoms, get medical treatment right away.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • Prop up your wrist on pillows when you sit or lie down in the first few days after the injury. Keep your wrist higher than the level of your heart. This will help reduce swelling.
  • Put ice or a cold pack on your wrist for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Try to do this every 1 to 2 hours for the next 3 days (when you are awake) or until the swelling goes down. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin.
  • Follow your doctor's directions for wearing a splint.
  • You heal best when you take good care of yourself. Eat a variety of healthy foods, and don't smoke.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have problems with your splint. For example:
    • The skin under the splint is burning or stinging.
    • The splint feels too tight.
    • There is a lot of swelling near the splint. (Some swelling is normal.)
    • You have a new fever.
  • You have new or worse pain, swelling, or warmth in your wrist.
  • Your fingers turn cold or change colour.
  • You have tingling, weakness, or numbness in your hand and fingers.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • You have problems with your splint.
  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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