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Hand & Wrist Care

(425) 899-4810 Kirkland

(360) 794-3300 Monroe

Scaphoid Fractures

The scaphoid is one of eight small bones that make up the “carpal bones” of the wrist.

It connects two rows of these bones - the proximal row (closer to the forearm) and the distal row (closer to the hand).

This connection puts it at extra risk for injury.


A fracture of the scaphoid bone usually occurs from a fall onto the outstretched hand.

Signs and Symptoms

Pain (with or without swelling or bruising at the “thumb side” of the wrist) can be noticed within days following a fall.

Because there is no visible deformity and no difficulty with motion, many people with this injury assume that it is a wrist “sprain.”

Unfortunately, delaying treatment can cause problems.

Visit a hand surgeon as soon as possible if you think you might have fractured your wrist.


Scaphoid fractures are usually diagnosed by an x-ray of the wrist; however, x-rays do not always show scaphoid fractures.

A break in the bone that cannot be seen on x-ray yet is called an “occult” fracture.

If you are tender directly over the scaphoid bone, your health care provider might recommend wearing a splint to be safe.

If pain persists, a follow-up exam and x-ray in a week or two can be used to diagnose.

A CT scan, bone scan or MRI may also be used to diagnosis the fracture.


If the fracture is non-displaced (bone has not moved out of place at the fracture), it usually can be successfully treated with a cast.

Although the fracture may heal in as little as six weeks, it may take longer for some patients.

If the fracture is in a certain part of the bone or if the fracture is at all displaced (bone ends have shifted), surgery might be the best option.

This might include the insertion of a screw or pins.

© 2014 American Society for Surgery of the Hand