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Metacarpal Fracture and Dislocation Follow-up

  • Author: David R Steinberg, MD; Chief Editor: Craig C Young, MD  more...
Updated: Mar 10, 2015

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The patient recovering from a metacarpal fracture and/or dislocation may be able to return to nonstrenuous activities at 6-8 weeks. Unprotected participation in contact sports should be avoided for 3 months.



See the list below:

  • Painful or prominent hardware may need to be removed after the metacarpal fracture has fully healed.
  • Angular or rotational malunions that substantially affect hand function may be treated with osteotomy.
  • Nonunions are rare. Patients who desire to avoid surgery can try using external bone-growth stimulators. Definitive treatment usually consists of surgical take-down of the nonunion, followed by stabilization and bone grafting.
  • Posttraumatic arthritis may occur after any intra-articular injury.
    • Conservative treatment consists of joint protection, activity modification, and judicious use of corticosteroid injections.
    • Standard pharmacologic treatment for arthritis may also be considered.
    • Relatively severe cases may require surgery, including osteotomy, arthroplasty, or arthrodesis.


Hand injuries are difficult to completely prevent in active individuals, particularly those involved in high-risk contact sports. Buddy-taping of previously injured fingers may help prevent further fractures and dislocations.



After an appropriate period for healing and rehabilitation, most patients regain relatively normal use of the hand. Some residual stiffness or weakness is not entirely unusual.

Contributor Information and Disclosures

David R Steinberg, MD Director of Hand Fellowship, Associate Professor, Department of Orthopedic Surgery, University of Pennsylvania Health System

David R Steinberg, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, American Society for Surgery of the Hand

Disclosure: Received nothing received, but have long-term ownership of public equities from Johnson & Johnson for none.

Specialty Editor Board

Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Received salary from Medscape for employment. for: Medscape.

Chief Editor

Craig C Young, MD Professor, Departments of Orthopedic Surgery and Community and Family Medicine, Medical Director of Sports Medicine, Medical College of Wisconsin

Craig C Young, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Family Physicians, American College of Sports Medicine, American Medical Society for Sports Medicine, Phi Beta Kappa

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Additional Contributors

Gerard A Malanga, MD Founder and Partner, New Jersey Sports Medicine, LLC and New Jersey Regenerative Institute; Director of Research, Atlantic Health; Clinical Professor, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-New Jersey Medical School; Fellow, American College of Sports Medicine

Gerard A Malanga, MD is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine, North American Spine Society, International Spine Intervention Society, American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, American College of Sports Medicine

Disclosure: Received honoraria from Cephalon for speaking and teaching; Received honoraria from Endo for speaking and teaching; Received honoraria from Genzyme for speaking and teaching; Received honoraria from Prostakan for speaking and teaching; Received consulting fee from Pfizer for speaking and teaching.

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Displaced fourth and fifth metacarpal fractures, anteroposterior view.
Displaced fourth and fifth metacarpal fractures, lateral view.
Fourth and fifth metacarpal fractures, oblique view.
Fourth and fifth metacarpal fractures after intramedullary pinning, anteroposterior view.
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