Boxer’s Fracture

What is a boxer’s fracture?

A boxer’s fracture is a break in the fifth metacarpal bone of the hand. The metacarpals are the long bones inside the palm. The fifth metacarpal is the bone that connects to your little finger. Boxer’s fractures are the most common type of hand fracture.

Learn more about hand anatomy

Fractures happen when a force is applied to the bone that exceeds the strength of the bone. There are two general categories of fracture:

  • In a nondisplaced fracture, the bone is broken but has not shifted or moved out of position.
  • In a displaced fracture, the bone has shifted significantly and the fractured ends of the bone are no longer in proper alignment.

What causes a boxer’s fracture?

Boxer’s fractures typically happen when you punch a hard surface with a closed fist. The fifth metacarpal bone absorbs most of the punch’s force, causing injury. A boxer’s fracture can also happen during a fall — if you fall onto a closed fist rather than an outstretched hand.

What are the symptoms of a boxer’s fracture?

The symptoms of a boxer’s fracture vary depending on how severe the fracture is and whether it is a nondisplaced or displaced fracture. Common symptoms of a boxer’s fracture may include:

  • Pain
  • Tenderness and swelling around the knuckle of the little finger
  • Bruising
  • Difficulty straightening the little finger
  • The little finger may cross over the next finger when making a fist (called “scissoring”)
  • A visible deformity — the knuckle of the little finger may look sunken in

How is a boxer’s fracture diagnosed?

Most boxer’s fractures can be diagnosed through an X-ray and a complete physical exam. In specific situations, your specialist may wish to get an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) or a CT (computed tomography) scan as well.

What are my treatment options for a boxer’s fracture?

A boxer’s fracture is typically immobilized with a cast or brace in order to correct bone alignment and prevent you from using the bone while it heals.

Your custom treatment plan may include:

  • Splint
  • Cast
  • Buddy taping
  • Pain medicines, such as acetaminophen
  • Anti-inflammatory medicines, such as ibuprofen
  • Physical therapy
  • Surgery

Learn how to care for your cast

How long will it take the fracture to heal?

The average healing process for a boxer’s fracture is anywhere from six to eight weeks, but different people heal at different rates. It may be slightly longer if surgery is required.

At Summit, our primary goal is to make sure your bones heal properly so you can get back to your everyday active life as quickly as possible without any future symptoms or loss of function.

Summit Orthopedics provides personalized hand and wrist expertise

The function of our hands is integrated through our wrists and arms to our shoulders; a problem anywhere along our arm may have a significant impact on hand function and quality of life. If you experience an injury or uncomfortable symptoms, our fellowship-trained hand and wrist surgeons are here to help. Summit physicians receive the highest levels of training and exclusively provide individualized care for conditions of the hand, wrist, and elbow.

Start your journey to better function and less pain. Find your hand expert, request an appointment online, or call us at (651) 968-5201 to schedule a consultation.

Summit has convenient locations across the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, serving Minnesota and western Wisconsin. We have state-of-the-art centers for comprehensive orthopedic care in Eagan, MNPlymouth, MNVadnais Heights, MN, and Woodbury, MN, as well as additional community clinics throughout the metro and southern Minnesota.

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