The Scaphoid Bone of the Wrist

My daughter (Ida) broke her wrist. We were at a party with a pack of children running around playing tag. She fell, as she has done so many times before, and came up with a pain that didn’t improve for a couple of days, meriting a trip to the doctor.

X-rays revealed a fracture of the scaphoid bone.

scaphoid bone

The scaphoid bone is the most common carpal bone to break and it breaks pretty easily.  It is the largest bone of the first of two rows (closer to the shoulder) of carpal bones.  The scaphoid bone is on the thumb side of the wrist connecting, along with the lunate bone, to the radius, the bigger of the two forearm bones.

The carpal bones form the carpal tunnel through which a host of tendons and the median nerve pass. The scaphoid basically forms the inner wall of the carpal tunnel, providing stability for the wrist and well as facilitating complex movements.

At first Ida was fitted with a splint which didn’t do the trick so she has now been in a cast for almost a month. Hopefully it won’t last too long because it is really a pain in the neck having to scribe her homework daily, and help her on with her socks and shoes (I thought I was past that).

Ida fractured her scaphoid bone in the exact way my sister did when she about the same age (10), falling and trying to stop themselves with an outstretched hand.

The scaphoid, while breaking easily, can have a difficult healing process.  Blood flow is the basic source of life and the scaphoid can present an interesting problem when it breaks. The fracture of the scaphoid bone can cut off the blood supply to one part of the bone which would inhibit the bone’s ability to heal (luckily my daughter fracture was on the good side).scaphoid bone

Add to this complication the simple fact that we are using the hand and wrist all day and night long. Breaking bones is interesting. At a certain point in the healing process you want to start moving the surrounding muscles, joints and tendons to promote recovery and stave off atrophy.

But in the beginning you want to be completely immobilized and it is not easy to avoid using your hand and wrist over the course of the day.

When she first got her cast, her younger brother was jealous. After a day or two Ida reported, “You know Reggie, I used to want to break something and have a cast so I could get sympathy and attention. But it really isn’t fun.”


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