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What Is a Hamate Fracture?

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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 17 September 2016
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The hamate bone is one of the bones found in the hand, and the term used for a break in this bone is a hamate fracture. While this type of fracture can happen to anyone, it is seen most often among those who participate in sports that require the use of a bat, club, or racket. Those with a history of falling on outstretched hands may also be particularly vulnerable to developing a hamate fracture. Treatment for this type of fracture often requires surgical intervention in order to repair the damage to the bone as well as surrounding tissues. Any questions or concerns about a hamate fracture or the most appropriate treatment options in an individual situation should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.

The wedge-shaped bone known as the hamate contains a hook-like projection that is particularly vulnerable to injury among those who participate in sports involving a swinging motion of the hand. In fact, it is this projection that is most affected by a hamate fracture. This type of fracture is easily missed in a standard x-ray, so additional diagnostic tests, such as a CT scan or MRI, are frequently needed in order to obtain an accurate diagnosis.

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A mild hamate fracture may not require any type of invasive medical treatment. In these cases, resting the affected hand and applying ice to the area may be sufficient treatment options while the body works to naturally heal the break. Over-the-counter or prescription medications may be needed, depending on the severity of the discomfort. Physical therapy may be helpful to make sure that the muscles in the hand get enough gentle exercise to remain healthy during the healing process. Doctor's orders must be followed precisely in order to avoid additional injury.

In most cases, the hamate fracture will require surgical intervention. This is especially true if the nerves or blood vessels become compressed, leading to circulation or movement problems. Depending on the severity of the fracture, a portion of the hamate bone may need to be removed completely. After the repair to the bone and any surrounding tissues that have been damaged, the affected hand is often placed in a cast for several weeks so that the hand stays immobile and further damage is not incurred. Possible side effects of hamate fracture surgery include a permanently decreased grip and temporary or permanent damage to the nerves of the hand.

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