Confirmed Navicular (Scaphoid) Wrist Fracture

You have a break (fracture) in one of the small bones of your wrist. This bone heals slowly. You may need to be in a cast for up to 3 months. Some navicular (scaphoid) fractures don’t heal the way they should. If so, you may need surgery at a later time.


Home care

Follow these guidelines when caring for yourself at home:

  • Keep your hand elevated to reduce pain and swelling. When sitting or lying down keep your arm above the level of your heart. 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 2 days (48 hours) after the injury.

  • Put an ice pack on the injured area. Do this for 20 minutes every 1 to 2 hours the first day for pain relief. You can make an ice pack by wrapping a plastic bag of ice cubes in a thin towel. As the ice melts, be careful that the cast or splint doesn’t get wet. Continue using the ice pack 3 to 4 times a day for the next 2 days. Then use the ice pack as needed to ease pain and swelling.

  • Keep the cast or splint completely dry at all times. Bathe with your cast or splint out of the water. Protect it with a large plastic bag, rubber-banded or taped at the top end. If a fiberglass cast or splint gets wet, you can dry it with a hair dryer on the cool setting.

  • You may use acetaminophen or ibuprofen to control pain, unless another pain medicine was prescribed. If you have chronic liver or kidney disease, talk with your healthcare provider before using these medicines. Also talk with your provider if you’ve had a stomach ulcer or gastrointestinal bleeding.

  • If you smoke, try to quit. Tobacco use can keep this fracture from healing the way it should. Smoking raises the risk that you will need surgery for this fracture.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider, or as advised. This is to make sure the bone is healing the way it should. If a splint was put on, it may be changed to a cast during your follow-up visit. When the cast is removed, you will need to do special hand and wrist exercises. These will help you get back your wrist strength and range of motion. Some people have permanent stiffness in the wrist after this type of injury.

If X-rays were taken, a radiologist may look at them. 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 cast or splint cracks

  • The plaster cast or splint becomes wet or soft

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

  • Tightness or pain under the cast or splint gets worse

  • Fingers become swollen, cold, blue, numb, or tingly

  • Fingers are hard to move

  • Bad odor from the cast or splint or wound fluid stains the cast or splint

  • The skin around the cast or splint becomes red, swollen, or irritated

  • Fever of 100.4ºF (38ºC) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

  • Chills

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