You have a fracture, or break, of one of the bones in your hand. This causes pain, swelling, and sometimes bruising. This injury is treated with a splint or cast. It takes about 4 to 6 weeks to heal. Surgery may be needed for severe injuries.
If there are wounds near the fractured joint from hitting someone in the mouth, antibiotics may be needed to prevent an infection. After the bone has healed, it is common for one knuckle to be slightly lower than the others, even if the bone was set. This may be seen only when you make a fist. It usually won’t affect hand function.
Keep your arm raised to reduce pain and swelling. When sitting or lying down, raise your arm above the level of your heart. You can do this by placing your arm on a pillow that rests on your chest or on a pillow at your side. This is most important during the first 48 hours after injury.
Apply an ice pack over the injured area for no more than 20 minutes. Do this every 3 to 6 hours for the first 24 to 48 hours. To make an ice pack, put ice cubes in a plastic bag that seals at the top. Wrap the bag in a clean, thin towel or cloth. Never put ice or an ice pack directly on the skin. You can place the ice pack inside the sling and directly over the splint or cast. As the ice melts, be careful that the cast or splint doesn’t get wet.
Keep the cast or splint dry at all times. Bathe with your cast or splint out of the water, protected with 2 large plastic bags. Place 1 bag around the other. Tape each bag with duct tape at the top end or use rubber bands. Even when the cast or splint is covered, water can leak in. So it's best to keep the cast or splint away from water. If a fiberglass cast or splint gets wet, you can dry it with a hair dryer on a cool setting.
You may use over-the-counter pain medicine to control pain, unless another pain medicine was prescribed. Talk with your provider before using these medicines if you have chronic liver or kidney disease, or ever had a stomach ulcer or GI (gastrointestinal) bleeding.
If you cut, punctured, or scraped your hand during this injury, there is a risk of infection. Watch for signs of infection listed below. Finish any antibiotics prescribed.
Follow up with your healthcare provider within 1 week, or as advised. This is to be sure the bone is healing as it should.
If X-rays were taken, you will be told of any new findings that may affect your care.
When to seek medical advice
Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:
The cast or splint becomes wet or soft
The cast becomes loose
There is increased tightness or pain under the cast or splint
Your fingers become swollen, cold, blue, numb, or tingly
The splint or cast has a bad smell, or wound drainage stains the cast
You have signs of infection: Fever, redness, warmth, swelling, or drainage from the wound
You have a fever of 100.4°F (38°C), or as directed by your provider
You have chills
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