Closed Hand Fracture (Adult)

You have a fracture, or broken bone, in your hand. This may be a small crack or chip in the bone. Or it may be a major break with the broken parts pushed out of place. A closed fracture means that the broken bone has not gone through the skin. A hand fracture is often treated with a splint or cast. It usually takes 4 to 6 weeks to heal. Severe injuries may require surgery.

Home care

  • Keep your arm raised to reduce pain and swelling. When sitting or lying down, raise your arm above heart level. You can do this by placing your arm on a pillow that rests on your chest or on a pillow at your side. This is most important during the first 48 hours after injury.

  • Apply an ice pack over the injured area for no more than 15 to 20 minutes. Do this every 1 to 2 hours for the first 24 to 48 hours. Continue with ice packs as needed to ease pain and swelling. To make an ice pack, put ice cubes in a plastic bag that seals at the top. Wrap the bag in a clean, thin towel or cloth. Never put ice or an ice pack directly on the skin. You can place the ice pack inside the sling and directly over the cast or splint. As the ice melts, be careful that the cast or splint doesn’t get wet.

  • Keep the cast or splint completely dry at all times. Bathe with your cast or splint out of the water, protected with 2 large plastic bags. Place 1 bag outside the other. Tape each bag with duct tape at the top end or use rubber bands. If a fiberglass cast or splint gets wet, dry it with a hair dryer on a cool setting.

  • You may use over-the-counter pain medicine to control pain, unless another pain medicine was prescribed. If you have chronic liver or kidney disease or ever had a stomach ulcer or GI bleeding, talk with your provider before using these medicines.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider in 1 week, or as advised. This is to be sure the bone is healing correctly. If you were given a splint, it may be changed to a cast at your follow-up visit.

If X-rays were taken, you will be told of any new findings that may affect your care.

When to seek medical advice

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • The plaster cast or splint becomes wet or soft

  • The fiberglass cast or splint stays wet for more than 24 hours

  • The cast or splint has a bad smell

  • The plaster cast or splint becomes loose

  • There is increased tightness or pain under the cast or splint

  • The fingers on your injured hand become swollen, cold, blue, numb, or tingly

© 2000-2021 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
Powered by Krames Patient Education - A Product of StayWell