A Boxer’s fracture occurs when the bone at the knuckle of the little finger breaks. This can be the result of a forceful injury during a fight or hitting a solid object. A Boxer’s Fracture will cause swelling, pain, stiffness, and treatment involves realigning the broken bone and providing stabilization while the bone heals.
The “knuckle” of the fifth finger is comprised of the head of the metacarpal bone from the hand, and the base of the finger, called the proximal phalanx.
Boxer’s Fracture Causes
A Boxer’s fracture occurs when the neck of the metacarpal bone in the little finger breaks. This is most commonly caused by punching an immovable object, such as a wall, or someone’s jaw or head during a fist fight. The blunt impact can cause the bone to break in several different patterns and pieces.
Boxer’s Fracture Symptoms
A Boxer’s fracture can cause your little finger and knuckle area to feel painful, and the pain will increase with any kind of movement. The hand will swell and may bruise. The normal shape and contour of the knuckle may deform or seem to disappear. This occurs because the fracture bends the bone, and the metacarpal head is no longer prominent. A Boxer’s fracture will make moving your fingers at all impossible and if possible, the fingers will not move correctly. The little finger may overlap the ring finger when bent because of malrotation.
Boxer’s Fracture Diagnosis
A doctor can diagnose a Boxer’s fracture by examining your hand and taking x-rays of your hand. The X-rays can show the type of fracture and dislocation. In rare cases, a CT scan may be used to provide a more detailed image.
Boxer’s Fracture Treatment
Many Boxer’s fractures can be treated by immobilizing the joint to promote healing. This immobilization can be achieved with a variety of splints, a cast, or taping techniques, depending on the severity of the break itself. “Buddy-taping” involves taping the little finger to the ring finger and is a popular option for a lot of athletes.
Boxer’s Fracture Surgery
Surgery is recommended for Boxer’s fractures if large degrees of angulation or displacement occur. It is also recommended if the joint surface is misaligned. Displacement and angulation means that a piece or pieces of the metacarpal bone that has broken have moved out of position. An open reduction and internal fixation, or ORIF, surgery allows surgical hardware, such as wires and screws, to be placed in the bone to align the fracture and allow it to heal in the correct position. It is important to see your doctor immediately after any injury, especially when you have reason to believe you may have broken a bone.
Boxer’s Fracture Recovery
Physical therapy with a hand therapist is usually recommended following immobilization and surgery. This typically takes four to six weeks for a hand fracture to heal and many additional weeks for it to regain motion and strength. In this time, you should avoid heavy lifting, gripping, and contact sports for about three months or for the amount of time your doctor suggests. People that have surgery generally require longer recovery periods than people that do not have surgery.
Boxer’s Fracture Prevention
Because the majority of Boxer’s Fractures are to some extent self inflicted, you can avoid Boxer’s fractures by avoiding the situations that cause them. You should avoid bare fist fighting. Gloves can protect your hands while boxing for sport.