A scaphoid fracture refers to a fracture of the wrist—specifically the bone shaped like a boat, which is why it is often called a “ship” fracture. A fracture of this bone can result from falling on an outstretched arm, sustaining a direct blow to the wrist or receiving a severe twist of the wrist.

A scaphoid fracture is commonly missed, which can lead to long-term weakness and a poor hand grip. For this reason, it is important to receive early diagnosis, treatment and physical therapy.

If you initially suspect a broken wrist, see a physician immediately for an x-ray to assess whether your scaphoid bone is involved. Treatment depends on the location, fracture type and fracture location in the bone. Because the scaphoid bone has an unusual shape, blood supply can be obstructed, thus slowing down the healing process. For those patients who suffer from delayed or poor healing, surgical intervention may be needed to ensure bone fusion.

If you undergo surgery, your wrist will be placed in a cast and then in a splint for several weeks afterwards to hold the bones in place as they heal. Once your cast has been removed, it is important that regular physical therapy be performed on a gradual basis, to enable you to slowly return to previous physical activities. For some people, this process may take one month while for others it may last longer.

Physical therapy facilitates recovery from a scaphoid fracture through exercises that promote stability, along with stretching and strengthening. These exercises will help to

  • improve your range of motion

  • reduce stiffness from immobilization after surgery
  • build strength

  • increase coordination