March 6, 2017

How do I know if my hand is broken?

Hand, Wrist and Elbow


Hand fractures can occur in either the small bones of the fingers (phalanges) or the long bones (metacarpals). They can result from a twisting injury, a fall, a crush injury or direct contact in sports.

Broken hand symptoms

  • Swelling
  • Tenderness
  • Deformity
  • Inability to move the finger
  • Shortened finger
  • Finger crosses over its neighbor when making a partial fist
  • Sunken-in knuckle hand

Physician examination

To see if you have a fractured hand, a physician will check the position of the fingers and the condition of the skin. The exam may also include some range of motion tests and an assessment of feeling on the fingers. This ensures that there is no damage to the nerves. An X-ray may be used to identify the location and extent of the fracture.

Make an appointment with a hand, wrist or elbow specialist


Most of the time, a broken hand can be realigned without surgery. A splint, cast or brace is usually applied to immobilize the bones and hold them in place. The cast will probably extend from the fingertips down the wrist almost to the elbow.

After ten days, X-rays may be taken to ensure that the bones have remained in proper position. After three to six weeks of wearing the cast, hand exercises will be used to strengthen the hand and regain range of motion and grip strength.

Some hand fractures will need surgery to realign the bones. An orthopedic surgeon can implant wires, screws or plates in the broken bone to hold the pieces of the fractured bone in place.


Most patients need guided hand therapy to reach full recovery overtime. Recovery time varies based on the type of fracture.

Relieve pain from hand, wrist or elbow injuries

Schedule an appointment

Your well-being is important to us. Click the button below or call us to schedule an appointment with one of our orthopedic specialists. If your injury or condition is recent, you can walk right into one of our OrthoIndy Urgent Care locations for immediate care. For rehabilitation and physical therapy, no appointment is needed to see one of our physical therapists.

Schedule an Appointment Call OrthoIndy 317.802.2000
Megan Golden

By Megan Golden

Megan Golden worked at OrthoIndy from 2012 to 2019, where she wrote a variety of content for our blog, magazines and inbound campaigns. Megan graduated from Ball State University in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in public relations and advertising and communications studies minor.

Related Posts

More from OrthoIndy

What causes elbow tendonitis and how do you treat it?

What causes elbow tendonitis and how do you treat it?

THIS POST IS PART OF THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO HAND, WRIST AND ELBOW INJURIES The elbow is made up of bones, ligaments, muscles and tendons. Tendons are flexible, tough bands…


What is endoscopic carpal tunnel surgery?

What is endoscopic carpal tunnel surgery?

Occasionally, surgery is necessary to treat carpal tunnel syndrome. Endoscopic carpal tunnel syndrome is the most common treatment for patients who need surgery.


What is Elbow Arthritis?

What is Elbow Arthritis?

Elbow arthritis occurs when the cartilage in your joint starts to break down. This injury often happens in athletes who use a repetitive motion, like baseball pitchers.


Get stories and News in your inbox

Subscribe to our weekly articles