A Fighter’s Nightmare: The Boxer’s Fracture

Boxer’s Fractures are one of the more common and easily diagnosed finger injuries seen in many hand and orthopedic practices. Don’t let the name fool you, this form of trauma is not strictly reserved for the professional or amateur fighter. In this blog, we’ll address what a Boxer’s Fracture is, how it happens, the signs/ symptoms associated and the possible treatment options available.

Overview and Causes

It should come as no surprise that Boxer’s Fracture is named after the action that causes it. This type of hand fracture typically occurs from punching a hard object with a closed fist; intentionally or accident; from hitting a person, an object, a wall etc. Even experienced boxers and MMA fighters who wrap their hands and wear boxing gloves for a fight will likely still experience a Boxer’s Fracture. This condition is easily diagnosed through x-rays, which will display a break (fracture) in the 5th metacarpal (pinky) or 4th metacarpal (ring finger) at the knuckle located at the base of the hand. It is possible to experience a Boxer’s Fracture from some other type of trauma besides punching, such as falling with a closed fist, however it is far less common. 

Signs and Symptoms

Some of the indicators of a Boxer’s Fracture include:

  • Hand pain
  • Swelling
  • Bruising at the knuckles
  • Difficulty moving fingers
  • Cold/numbness
  • Inability to grip or close a fist
  • Curvature in the pinky finger

Symptoms of the condition tend to vary based on the severity of the break, frequency or repeated breaks and the amount of time it takes you to seek treatment.

Treatment

X-rays are used to determine the type of break that has occurred in the hand. Though Boxer’s Fractures are similar to other type of finger breaks, the treatment options available may be different from a break in another finger or knuckle so it is important for your specialist to determine a proper diagnosis.

Like many other hand and finger injuries, the initial steps towards recovery include rest, icing the injury site and taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory pain medication. If the break includes displaced bones, your doctor will need to reset them. Splinting, taping or casting the area is also a recommended treatment to keep the bones in place and to avoid overuse while healing.

Your specialist may also recommend occupational therapy treatment during your recovery. Your Occupational Therapist will work with you to provide strength and range of motion exercises, as well as a home exercise program for optimum recovery. Surgery may be necessary if the break is extremely severe, or if the bones do not heal correctly through more conservative treatment.

Most patients who follow protocol set by their physician can fully heal within a few weeks with no complications.

Wrap Up

In the end, the best way to avoid a Boxer’s Fracture is simple, don’t punch things!

If you have experienced a new possible Boxer’s Fracture or are experiencing complications from a previous one, contact one of our hand specialists today!

Sources:

https://www.healthline.com/health/boxers-fracture#symptoms

https://www.assh.org/handcare/condition/boxers-fracture

https://www.cedars-sinai.org/health-library/diseases-and-conditions/b/boxers-fracture.html

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