Bone, Joint and Muscle Conditions

Hand Fractures Symptoms and Diagnosis

Symptoms of Hand Fractures

Some signs of broken bones are clear - for example, when the bone breaks through the skin in an open fracture. Other signs that bones may be broken and growth plates injured include:

  • Severe pain
  • Swelling, bruising or bleeding
  • Bone or joint that looks out of place or the wrong shape
  • Weakness, numbness or tingling
  • Trouble moving the part of the body that is broken

When your child or teen breaks a bone, they will have pain at the site of the break. It will be hard for them to move the body part that is broken. This pain and loss of movement is your cue to take them to the doctor or the emergency room.

Diagnosis of Hand Fractures

First, we examine your child. During the exam, the doctor checks how the bones line up when your child moves their hand, if they can, and when the doctor tries to move it. The doctor also looks for related injuries, like damage to the fingernail, tissue under the nail (nail bed), ligaments, tendons or joints.

If one or more bones might be fractured, your child will need X-rays. This helps us know how to treat your child. Most likely your child will have X-rays from three angles so the doctor can see clearly where the break or breaks are.

Careful diagnosis is important. Simpler breaks can be treated with a splint or a cast. More complex breaks may require surgery. Knowing when a child's fracture needs surgery requires special education and experience with pediatric trauma.

If the bone is broken at or near a growth plate, the doctor may suspect the growth plate is injured. The growth plate itself can't be seen on an X-ray, but some signs of damage may show up. Sometimes children need an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan or other scan to check for growth-plate damage.