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Hand Fracture Medication

  • Author: Erik D Schraga, MD; Chief Editor: Trevor John Mills, MD, MPH  more...
Updated: Oct 17, 2015

Medication Summary

Control pain with commonly prescribed medications. Acetaminophen with codeine or hydrocodone usually suffices.

Prescribe antibiotics for open fractures, usually a cephalosporin (ie, cefazolin sodium) with broad-spectrum coverage added for grossly contaminated wounds.



Class Summary

Pain control is essential to quality patient care. It ensures patient comfort and aids physical therapy regimens. Many analgesics have sedating properties that benefit patients who have sustained fractures.

Acetaminophen and codeine (Tylenol #3)


Drug combination indicated for treatment of mild to moderately severe pain.

Hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen (Vicodin ES)


Drug combination indicated for relief of moderately severe to severe pain.



Class Summary

Therapy must cover all likely pathogens in this clinical setting. Antibiotic combinations may be required for broad coverage in grossly contaminated wounds.

Cefazolin (Ancef, Kefzol, Zolicef)


First-generation, semisynthetic cephalosporin that, by binding to 1 or more penicillin-binding proteins, arrests bacterial cell wall synthesis and inhibits bacterial replication. Primarily active against skin flora, including Staphylococcus aureus. Typically used alone for skin and skin-structure coverage.

Total daily dosages are same for IV/IM routes.

Gentamicin (Gentacidin, Garamycin)


Aminoglycoside antibiotic used for gram-negative bacterial coverage. Commonly used in combination with both an agent against gram-positive organisms and one that covers anaerobes. Used in conjunction with ampicillin or vancomycin for prophylaxis in patients with open fractures.

Vancomycin (Vancocin)


Potent antibiotic directed against gram-positive organisms and active against enterococcal species. Useful in treatment of septicemia and skin-structure infections.

Used in conjunction with gentamicin for prophylaxis in penicillin-allergic patients with open fractures.

May need to adjust dose in patients diagnosed with renal impairment.

Contributor Information and Disclosures

Erik D Schraga, MD Staff Physician, Department of Emergency Medicine, Mills-Peninsula Emergency Medical Associates

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

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.

Eric L Legome, MD Chief, Department of Emergency Medicine, Kings County Hospital Center; Professor Clinical, Department of Emergency Medicine, State University of New York Downstate College of Medicine

Eric L Legome, MD is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, Council of Emergency Medicine Residency Directors, American Academy of Emergency Medicine, American College of Emergency Physicians, Society for Academic Emergency Medicine

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Chief Editor

Trevor John Mills, MD, MPH Chief of Emergency Medicine, Veterans Affairs Northern California Health Care System; Professor of Emergency Medicine, Department of Emergency Medicine, University of California, Davis, School of Medicine

Trevor John Mills, MD, MPH is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Emergency Medicine, American College of Emergency Physicians

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Additional Contributors

Francis Counselman, MD, FACEP Chair, Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine, Eastern Virginia Medical School

Francis Counselman, MD, FACEP is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, American College of Emergency Physicians, Norfolk Academy of Medicine, Association of Academic Chairs of Emergency Medicine, Society for Academic Emergency Medicine

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.


Jon Alke, MD Staff Physician, Stanford/Kaiser Emergency Medicine Residency, Stanford University School of Medicine

Jon Alke, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Emergency Physicians and Emergency Medicine Residents Association

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

William R Fraser, DO Associate Clinical Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine, Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine; Program Director, Department of Emergency Medicine, Doctors Hospital

William R Fraser is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Emergency Medicine, American College of Emergency Physicians, American College of Osteopathic Emergency Physicians, and American Osteopathic Association

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

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Assessment of the hand for rotational deformities of the fingers or metacarpals is essential, as such deformities, if untreated, may result in significant functional compromise. With fingers flexed at the metacarpophalangeal and proximal interphalangeal joints and extended at the distal interphalangeal joints, fingers should all point toward the scaphoid bone (see image).
Phalangeal fractures. Complex unstable fracture of the proximal phalanx. Image courtesy of Mark Baratz, MD.
Displaced fourth and fifth metacarpal fractures, anteroposterior view.
Fourth and fifth metacarpal fractures, oblique view.
Metacarpophalangeal ligaments.
Metacarpophalangeal musculoskeletal structure.
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