Hand fractures are a common injury, but they can be one of the most difficult types to recover from. When one of the bones in your hand breaks, you won’t be able to use your hand, fingers, or wrist properly until the fracture heals. That can make daily activities like buttoning a shirt, slicing vegetables, or driving a car difficult, if not impossible.
Fortunately, there are ways to speed up your recovery, and help you regain your mobility, flexibility, and strength. At JAG PT, we’re the tri-state area’s premiere provider of physical therapy, which is a key component in hand injury rehabilitation. You can use the following tips and techniques to recover faster from a fracture so you can get back to your everyday lifestyle as soon as possible. Contact JAG PT to learn more about hand fracture recovery, or book an appointment today – your recovery shouldn’t wait.
Understanding Hand Fractures
A hand fracture is a break or crack in one or more of the many small bones that make up the hand. Hand fractures are often caused by falls or something forcefully striking or being dropped on the fingers or palm.
Anyone may be at risk of a hand fracture, as some of the most common causes are ordinary slips and trips when the fall is broken with an outstretched hand. Osteoporosis and other bone and joint conditions can increase the chances of a hand fracture. People who play sports that involve intensive hand usage — such as rugby, football, and hockey — are prone to breaks, as are athletes involved in activities where falls are common, like skiing, snowboarding, and gymnastics. The sports medicine specialists at JAG PT are dedicated to helping physically active people reduce their chances of injury.
Hand fractures can be categorized as follows:
- Stable fractures occur when the broken sections of bone continue to be lined up with one another. This type of fracture can be the result of a minor fall or a sports injury.
- Unstable fractures are more serious because the pieces of bone have shifted, which complicates healing. The more severe the impact, the more likely the fracture is to become unstable.
- Comminuted fractures are especially severe because they involve breaks in the bone in several places rather than just one. Most of the time, comminuted fractures of the hand are the result of blunt force trauma, such as an automobile accident.
If you have a hand fracture, you’re probably wondering when you’ll be back to normal. The recovery time depends on the type of fracture, but in general, it takes four to six weeks for a hand fracture to heal, and you can usually return to your normal activities after about eight to twelve weeks. However, you can recover better and faster by maintaining a consistent regimen of exercise and PT treatment.
How to Strengthen Your Hand During the Fracture Recovery Process
To help your hand heal, your doctor will likely recommend performing exercises to increase hand mobility and then, when you’re ready, using resistance training to increase hand strength. You may also be advised to adopt some lifestyle changes, such as protecting your wrist with a brace.
Exercises to Improve Range of Motion and Flexibility in the Hand
Here are three easy exercises you can use to regain mobility:
- Wrist supination: Place your arm at your side straight out against the body, forming a 90-degree angle at the elbow and facing the palms down. Rotate your forearm so your palm faces up and hold for five seconds. Return to the palms down position and repeat.
- Thumb extension: Start with your thumb extended. Gradually turn your thumb so it slides across the palm of your hand and faces the other edge, then turn it back to the extended position and repeat.
- Finger tendon glide: Place your elbow on a flat surface for stability. Extend your arm and fingers. To perform this mobility exercise, you’ll do three movements. First, bend your fingers down perpendicular to your palm (making a 90-degree angle). Next, bend your finger joints until your fingertips curve inward like a hook. Finally, make a loose fist by touching your fingertips to the palm of your hand and repeat.
Resistance Training Exercises to Increase Hand Strength and Dexterity
As your mobility improves and the fracture heals, you’ll want to work on strengthening your hand with resistance exercises so you can regain your dexterity and grip. Here are three exercises that will strengthen your hand:
- Ball or putty squeezes: Hold a squeeze ball or piece of putty in the palm of your hand and squeeze hard without reaching a point of pain.
- Finger lifts: Place your hand on a flat surface, palm down. Lift each finger and your thumb individually and lower slowly.
- Rubber hand abduction: Surround your four fingers with a rubber band, placing it above the middle knuckle. Spread your fingers as far as you can, hold for five seconds, and relax.
Lifestyle Changes to Speed Your Recovery
To promote bone healing, be sure to include plenty of calcium, vitamin D, magnesium, and protein in your diet from dark leafy greens, yogurt, salmon, meat, nuts, and seeds.
You will also want to enhance your vitamin and mineral intake. You can talk to your doctor about taking supplements. Zinc, copper, silicon, and vitamins C, B6, and K are all nutrients your body needs to rebuild bone.
Healthy blood circulation is also important to speed healing after a hand fracture. That’s why you should avoid smoking, which diminishes blood flow. Be sure to stay active as much as possible and keep up a routine of hand exercises in order to maintain an adequate flow of nutrient-rich blood to the injury site.
Get Professional Hand Care with JAG PT
While there’s a lot you can do at home, only a trained and licensed physical therapist will know what’s best for your unique situation. The best path forward for you depends on the type of fracture, your musculoskeletal condition, and your lifestyle needs such as the physical demands of your job or the sports you play.
JAG Physical Therapy can provide a personalized treatment plan to help you recondition your hand and meet your specific needs and goals. Learn more about how we can help you return to the lifestyle you enjoyed before the injury — contact JAG PT today, find a location near you throughout New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, or book an appointment, because your healing can’t wait.
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