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Boxer's Fracture

What is a boxer’s fracture?

A boxer’s fracture is a break in the bone in the hand that attaches to the pinky finger. The long bones in the hand are called metacarpals. A boxer’s fracture is also called a fifth metacarpal fracture.

How does it occur?

A boxer’s fracture usually occurs from hitting a hard object with your fist. That is why it is called a boxer's fracture. It can also occur from falling onto your hand.

What are the symptoms?

Pain, swelling, and tenderness on the pinky finger side of the hand. There may be a bump on the side of your hand or it may look crooked.

How is it diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will review your symptoms, ask you how you got the injury, and examine you. Your provider will take an X-ray of your hand, which will show the break.

How is it treated?

If the broken bone is crooked your provider will straighten it. Then a cast or splint will be placed from your hand to your forearm. You will wear this cast or splint for 4 to 6 weeks. Some fractures need surgery.

To treat this condition:

  • Put an ice pack, gel pack, or package of frozen vegetables, wrapped in a cloth on the area every 3 to 4 hours, for up to 20 minutes at a time.
  • Raise your hand by putting it on a pillow when you sit or lie down.
  • Take an anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen, or other medicine as directed by your provider. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs) may cause stomach bleeding and other problems. These risks increase with age. Read the label and take as directed. Unless recommended by your healthcare provider, do not take for more than 10 days.

How long will the effects last?

Boxer’s fractures usually heal within 6 weeks. Ask your healthcare provider when you will be able to return to your normal activities.

When can I return to my normal activities?

Everyone recovers from an injury at a different rate. Return to your activities depends on how soon your hand recovers, not by how many days or weeks it has been since your injury has occurred. The goal of rehabilitation is to return you to your normal activities as soon as is safely possible. If you return too soon you may worsen your injury. You may start rehabilitation exercises when your provider has taken a follow-up X-ray sees that your fracture has healed.

You may return to your normal activities when your hand has full range of motion without pain and has the same strength as the uninjured side.

How can I prevent a boxer’s fracture?

Since most boxer’s fractures happen because of hitting hard objects with your fist, don't hit things!

Written by Pierre Rouzier, MD.
Published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2011-02-09
Last reviewed: 2010-06-21
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2011 RelayHealth and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.
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