The hand is made up of many bones that forms supporting framework for the hand. This frame acts as a point of attachment for the muscles and tendons that make the wrist and fingers move. A fracture occurs when enough force is applied to a bone to break it. When this happens, there is pain, swelling, and decreased use of the injured part. Fractures may be simple with the bone pieces aligned and stable. Other fractures are unstable and the bone fragments tend to displace or shift. Some fractures occur in the shaft (main body) of the bone, others break the joint surface. Comminuted fractures (bone is shattered into many pieces) usually occur from a high energy force and are often unstable. An open (compound) fracture occurs when a bone fragment breaks through the skin. There is some risk of infection with compound fractures.
A splint or cast may be used to treat a fracture that is not displaced. Some displaced fractures may need to be set and then held in place with wires or pins without making an incision. This is called closed reduction and percutaneous pinning.
Other fractures may need surgery to set the bone (open reduction). Once the bone fragments are set, they are held together with pins, plates, or screws. On occasion, bone may be missing or be so severely crushed that it cannot be repaired. In such cases, bone is taken from another part of the body to help provide more stability.