Scaphoid Injury 

Updated: Sep 11, 2019
Author: Scott R Laker, MD; Chief Editor: Stephen Kishner, MD, MHA 

Overview

Practice Essentials

Scaphoid fractures are the most common type of wrist fracture, accounting for 10% of all hand fractures and up to 60-70% of all carpal fractures.[1]  They frequently occur after a fall on an outstretched hand. Plain radiographs after the initial injury may not reveal a fracture, and a delay in the diagnosis and treatment of a scaphoid fracture can alter the prognosis for union, increasing the risk of avascular necrosis and the long-term likelihood of arthritis. With treatment of scaphoid fractures, either physical or occupational therapy is necessary for regaining strength and range of motion (ROM) in the affected wrist and hand.

Symptoms of scaphoid injury

The patient with a scaphoid fracture often presents complaining of wrist pain and may be diagnosed as having a sprain of the wrist. In sports-related injuries, it is not uncommon for a fractured scaphoid to go unnoticed. Pain and tenderness are often on the radial side of the wrist. Pain often is exacerbated with wrist motion. Edema of the injured wrist is present to some degree and may involve the hand or entire upper extremity.

Workup in scaphoid fracture

When a scaphoid fracture is suggested on physical examination, a scaphoid series (including a posteroanterior [PA] view with the wrist in ulnar deviation) should be ordered, because routine wrist anteroposterior (AP), lateral, and oblique views may not show the fracture. Based on retrospective studies and cadaveric review, the most sensitive radiographic evaluation includes four views: PA, lateral, pronated oblique (60° pronated oblique), and ulnar deviated oblique (also described as 60° supinated oblique).[2, 3]

​If a diagnosis cannot be confirmed with confidence on routine films, a technetium-99m (99mTc) bone scan or a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan of the wrist is recommended.[4, 5]

Management of scaphoid fracture

The wrist is always stiff after immobilization for more than a few weeks. Mobilization cannot be started until the injured tissue has healed enough to provide some degree of stability. Active wrist ROM exercises should be started as soon as the cast is removed. Pronation and supination should not be overlooked.

Mobilizing the joint is desirable before the bone and soft tissues have healed completely. Various splints are required to protect and support the wrist in its final stage of healing.

The muscles crossing the wrist must be strengthened after the wrist has healed, edema has been controlled, and motion has improved. Functional activities and progressive resistive exercises are employed. The wrist flexors and extensors are contracted actively against maximum resistance through a full arc of motion.

Indications for immediate surgical referral include the following:

  • Fracture of the proximal pole
  • Fracture displaced more than 1 mm
  • Delayed presentation of acute fracture
  • Fracture associated with scapholunate ligament rupture
  • Carpal instability (lunate tilt on radiograph)
  • Work considerations, when early return is desired in cases of nondisplaced fracture
  • Evidence of nonunion or osteonecrosis

Displaced or unstable fractures require percutaneous pin fixation or compression screw fixation to prevent malunion. Internal fixation is accomplished with either smooth Kirschner wires or a Herbert screw.[6]

Related Medscape Drugs & Diseases topics:

Avascular Necrosis

Wrist Fracture in Emergency Medicine

Wrist Fractures and Dislocations

Scapholunate Advanced Collapse

Scaphoid Fracture Imaging

Related Medscape resource:

Resource Center Fracture

Pathophysiology

Anatomic considerations

The carpus contains eight small bones, which are arranged in two rows, proximal and distal. The proximal bones, from the radial to the medial side, are the scaphoid, lunate, triquetrum, and pisiform. Only the scaphoid and lunate articulate with the radius; thus, these 2 bones transmit the entire force of a fall on the hand to the forearm. The distal bones are, starting from the radial side, the trapezium, trapezoid, capitate, and hamate. In scaphoid injury, pain is often elicited in palpation of the anatomic snuffbox, which is bordered by the extensor pollicis longus tendon medially, the extensor pollicis brevis and abductor pollicis longus tendons laterally, and the styloid process of the radius proximally. 

Blood supply

Anatomically, the scaphoid may be divided into proximal, middle (termed the waist), and distal thirds. The scaphoid is unique in that it is supplied by the palmar carpal branch of the radial artery from the distal to the proximal pole. Fractures of the proximal third of the scaphoid account for 15% of scaphoid fractures, those of the middle portion account for 65%, those of the distal tuberosity account for 10%, and fractures of the distal body make up the remaining 10%.[7]  Diminished blood flow to the proximal pole is noted in about one third of fractures at the waist level. Since supply to the proximal pole is tenuous, disruption may result in avascular necrosis. Almost 100% of proximal pole fractures result in aseptic necrosis. Displaced scaphoid fractures have a nonunion rate of 55-90%.

Fall onto outstretched hand

The usual mechanism of injury is a fall onto the outstretched hand (FOOSH) that results in forceful hyperextension of the wrist and impaction of the scaphoid against the dorsal rim of the radius. This mechanism explains why snuffbox tenderness is so common, even in the absence of a scaphoid fracture. Conventional medical wisdom dictates that snuffbox tenderness should be equated with a scaphoid fracture unless radiographs prove otherwise. If initial radiographs do not show fracture, follow-up radiographs should be obtained in 7-14 days, because the fracture line may be more visible after some resorption.

Epidemiology

Frequency

United States

Scaphoid fracture has been reported in people aged 10-70 years, although it is most common in young adult men following a fall, athletic injury, or motor vehicle accident.

Mortality/Morbidity

The scaphoid has no ligamentous or tendinous attachments, but joint compressive forces, trapezial-scaphoid shear stress, and capitolunate rotation moments exert control on the scaphoid. Therefore, scaphoid fractures have a high incidence of nonunion (8-10%), frequent malunion, and late sequelae of carpal instability and posttraumatic arthritis.

  • A higher incidence of aseptic necrosis and nonunion is noted with fractures of the proximal pole of the scaphoid, due to the blood supply (as detailed above).

  • A scaphoid fracture can present as a nondisplaced, stable fracture or as a displaced, unstable fracture. Displaced fractures frequently are associated with ligamentous tears in the wrist and require thorough evaluation and follow-up.

A study by Williams et al using the National Trauma Data Bank found a relatively high rate of concomitant scaphoid and proximal radius fractures in young males. The investigators reported that out of 11,309 patients with proximal radius fracture and an injury severity score of below 15 (with the latter providing a proxy for low-energy injury), 3% had scaphoid fractures. In men aged 18-30 years, however, the incidence of concomitant fractures was 10%.[8]

 

Race

No known correlation exists between race and scaphoid fracture.

Sex

Scaphoid injuries are more common in men than in women.

Age

Scaphoid fracture is uncommon in children because the physis of the distal radius usually fails first, resulting in Salter type I or II fractures of the distal radius. Similarly, in elderly patients, the distal radial metaphysis usually fails before the scaphoid can fracture.

Patient Education

The patient should be informed that degenerative arthritis of the wrist is highly likely, but this condition may take years to develop, depending on the amount of chronic stress applied to the wrist.

To help prevent further morbidity, patients can be educated on the basics of wrist injury and how to properly care for their cast or splint. Common symptoms of wrist injury, including pain, swelling, bruising, stiffness, and weakness, can be discussed. In addition, patients can be counseled to monitor for warning signs and symptoms such as numbness and tingling (possible nerve injury), intractable pain (possible avascular necrosis), and redness, swelling, warmth, and tenderness (possible infection).

If the patient is using acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), it is important to recommend adherence to prescribed limits, given the adverse effects associated with increased dosages. Treatment can also be covered, including rest, ice, elevation or elastic bandaging, or, in some cases, surgery. Discussion of proper cast and splint care is warranted, as is determination of a general timeline for the wrist sprain or fracture to heal. Special care should be taken for patients in labor-heavy industries or those whose activities place significant stress on the wrist. If warranted, smoking cessation is encouraged, as active smoking may prolong fracture healing. Appropriate follow-up and aggressive rehabilitation should also be emphasized to the patient.

For patient education information, see the articles Broken Hand and Wrist Injury.

 

Presentation

History

Scaphoid fracture can occur through two different mechanisms: a compression injury or a hyperextension (ie, bending) injury.

  • The compression injury originates from a longitudinal load or impaction of the wrist, which often leads to fracture of the scaphoid without displacement.
  • In a hyperextension injury, when tensile stresses generated and applied to the wrist exceed bone strength, a displaced fracture commonly results.

  • Other fractures or dislocations of the carpus and forearm occur in 17% of patients.

  • In many wrist sprain injuries, the dorsal rim of the radius and the waist of the scaphoid abut, resulting in a contusion of the scaphoid, or even the capsule, with resulting pain that can be provoked by deep palpation in the snuffbox.

Physical

The patient with a scaphoid fracture often presents complaining of wrist pain and may be diagnosed as having a sprain of the wrist. In sports-related injuries, it is not uncommon for a fractured scaphoid to go unnoticed. Pain and tenderness are often on the radial side of the wrist. Pain often is exacerbated with wrist motion. 

  • For distal pole fractures, a reliable correlation exists with pain provoked by deep palpation at the volar tubercle of the scaphoid, which is the first bony prominence distal to the volar distal radius.
  • For waist fractures, focal tenderness is most often found in the anatomic snuffbox.
  • For proximal pole fractures, tenderness is often found just distal to the Lister tubercle.
  • A high positive correlation with scaphoid fracture exists when there is tenderness upon palpation at the snuffbox and volar tubercle.
  • Scaphoid fracture is not very likely when tubercle palpation does not provoke pain in the snuffbox.
  • Range of motion (ROM) is reduced, but not dramatically.
  • Swelling around the radial and posterior aspects of the wrist is common. If high forces are associated with the injury, ligamentous trauma is also possible.
  • These same findings may be present with ligamentous injuries of the wrist; thus, whenever findings are suggestive of a scaphoid fracture, the patient should be treated for a scaphoid fracture.

One systematic review found the history not to be useful for diagnosis, but absence of scaphoid tenderness and absence of pain with resisted supination had negative likelihood ratios of 0.15 and 0.9, respectively.[9]

Special provocation maneuvers

See the list below:

  • Watson (scaphoid shift) test

    • The patient sits with the forearm pronated. The examiner takes the patient's wrist into full ulnar deviation and extension. The examiner presses the patient's thumb with his/her other hand and then begins radial deviation and flexion of the patient's hand.

    • If the scaphoid and lunate are unstable, the dorsal pole of the scaphoid subluxes over the dorsal rim of the radius and the patient complains of pain, indicating a positive test.

  • Scaphoid stress test

    • The patient sits while the examiner holds the patient's wrist with one hand, with the examiner applying pressure with his/her thumb over the patient's distal scaphoid. The patient then attempts radial deviation of the wrist.

    • If excessive laxity is present, the scaphoid is forced dorsally out of the scaphoid fossa of the radius with a resulting audible clunk and pain, indicating a positive test.

Causes

Scaphoid fractures usually are an injury of young men and women, occurring after a fall, athletic injury, or motor vehicle accident.[10]

 

DDx

Diagnostic Considerations

These include the following:

  • Fracture of the forearm

  • Fracture of the hand

  • Scapholunate dissociation

Differential Diagnoses

 

Workup

Laboratory Studies

See the list below:

  • No laboratory studies are indicated for the diagnosis of scaphoid fracture.

Imaging Studies

Radiographic examination

Plain radiographs are limited in their ability to detect fractures within 2-6 weeks of the injury. When a scaphoid fracture is suggested on physical examination, a scaphoid series (including a posteroanterior [PA] view with the wrist in ulnar deviation) should be ordered, because routine wrist anteroposterior (AP), lateral, and oblique views may not show the fracture. Based on retrospective studies and cadaveric review, the most sensitive radiographic evaluation includes four views: PA, lateral, pronated oblique (60° pronated oblique), and ulnar deviated oblique (also described as 60° supinated oblique).[2, 3]

Comparison views of the contralateral wrist may be necessary. Importantly, as many as 25% of scaphoid fractures are not evident on initial radiographs, and the radiographs may not definitively delineate fracture alignment, in which case magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT) scanning is warranted. Immobilization in a thumb spica splint or cast for 7-14 days is recommended prior to repeat imaging.

If the radiographs are equivocal and it is important for an athlete to return to competition without waiting 7-14 days for repeated radiographs, a bone scan may be obtained after 72 hours.[4]

A study by Hannemann et al indicated that in terms of revealing the union of nondisplaced scaphoid waist fractures after 6 weeks of cast immobilization, conventional radiography has an average sensitivity and specificity of 65% and 67%, respectively, as well as positive and negative predictive values of 93% and 22%, respectively.[11]

For radiographically negative studies: MRI, CT, or bone scan 

For patients with radiographically negative studies, there is no consensus on the next best diagnostic test. ​If a diagnosis cannot be confirmed with confidence on routine films, a technetium-99m (99mTc) bone scan or an MRI scan of the wrist is recommended.[4, 5]  Bone scanning has a sensitivity of 99% but a specificity of 86% and so would result in overtreatment of 112/1000 patients. MRI has a sensitivity of 88% and a specificity of 100%, missing fractures in 24/1000 patients but resulting in no overtreatment (although MRI sensitivity and specificity have been reported to be as high as 100% and 96.3%, respectively, in the acute setting of suspected scaphoid fracture.[12] ). MRI has the added benefit of highlighting soft tissue structures, and timing does not affect accuracy. CT scanning has a sensitivity of 72% and a specificity of 99%, missing fractures in 56/1000 patients and resulting in overtreatment in 8/1000 patients; similar to MRI, timing does not affect its accuracy.[13]

MRI

MRI is often used because it offers several distinct advantages; specifically, the modality is noninvasive and readily available, and it can assess bone healing and evaluate for bone contusions and ligamentous injuries.[14, 15]

Tibrewal et al concluded that MRI is the most effective imaging tool for diagnosing a clinically suspected scaphoid fracture.[16, 17]

A British study looked into the cost effectiveness of MRI and found that the direct cost of the modality did not significantly increase health care costs; additionally, when accounting for productivity losses incurred by unnecessary casting, MRI was found to be much more cost effective.[18]  Several articles suggest that MRI is a very reasonable next step in cases in which fracture is highly suspected despite initial negative radiographic findings.

A prospective, noncontrolled study by Bervian et al indicated that in cases of scaphoid fracture nonunion, the presence of marked low signal intensity on T1-weighted MRI scans and the absence intraoperatively of punctate bone bleeding strongly suggest osteonecrosis of the proximal fragment.[19]

CT scanning

Computed tomography (CT) scanning has very good interobserver and intraobserver reliability, although fractures with less than 1 mm of displacement are often not detected.[20]  Its sensitivity and specificity are estimated to be 100% when used 5-10 days postinjury. Bone scan sensitivity was noted to be 78% in this study.

Bone scanning

One prospective study found that bone scans performed 3-7 days postinjury are 92% sensitive and 87% specific. Another prospective study found minimal interobserver and intraobserver variability.[20]

One systematic review suggested that a negative bone scan virtually excludes fracture, with a negative likelihood ratio of 0.12.[9]

Other imaging modalities

High-resolution ultrasonography is also being investigated for the diagnosis of scaphoid fracture, but it relies heavily on the technical skill of the examiner.[15]

Intrasound vibration examination also has been used to detect the occult, undiagnosed scaphoid fracture.[21]

Other Tests

 

 

 

Treatment

Rehabilitation Program

Physical therapy

General principles for the rehabilitation of wrist injuries, including the rehabilitation of scaphoid fractures, include the following:

  • All of these injuries require some form of rehabilitation.[22] Specific limitations apply to rehabilitation. Pain is one limiting factor, because it dictates the duration of immobilization and limits exercise designed to mobilize and strengthen the wrist.

  • Edema of the injured wrist is present to some degree and may involve the hand or entire upper extremity. Functional disuse in itself results in edema. The most important preventive measures are elevation and active motion of the uninjured joints. Modalities (eg, Jobst intermittent compression units, massage) may be used later for chronic edema associated with traumatic wrist injuries.

  • The wrist is always stiff after immobilization for more than a few weeks. Mobilization cannot be started until the injured tissue has healed enough to provide some degree of stability. Active wrist ROM exercises should be started as soon as the cast is removed. Pronation and supination should not be overlooked.

  • Mobilizing the joint is desirable before the bone and soft tissues have healed completely. Various splints are required to protect and support the wrist in its final stage of healing.

  • The muscles crossing the wrist must be strengthened after the wrist has healed, edema has been controlled, and motion has improved. Functional activities and progressive resistive exercises are employed. The wrist flexors and extensors are contracted actively against maximum resistance through a full arc of motion.

Rehabilitation considerations immediately following injury to 1 week

  • For casted fractures

    • Active range of motion (AROM) and passive range of motion (PROM) to the digits, except the thumb, which is immobilized

    • AROM and active-assisted range of motion (AAROM) exercises to the shoulder

    • Isometric exercises to the biceps, triceps, and deltoid muscles

  • Following open reduction internal fixation (ORIF) surgery

    • Elevation of the arm to treat dependent edema

    • AROM and PROM of digits, except the thumb

    • AROM and AAROM exercises to the elbow and shoulder

    • Isometric exercises to the biceps, triceps, and deltoid muscles

    • Limitation of supination and pronation

Rehabilitation considerations in 2 weeks

  • The clinician may obtain bone or CT scans in the event of continued pain and tenderness over the snuffbox with negative radiographic findings.

  • Bone stimulators have been increasingly used for stable, nondisplaced fractures and for suspected scaphoid fractures with negative radiographic findings, although both uses are still somewhat controversial.

  • A short-arm cast is indicated for a suspected fracture, while a long-arm cast is used for a known fracture.

  • The patient should continue ROM exercises for casted fractures and ORIF, as above.

Rehabilitation considerations in 4-6 weeks

  • For casted fractures

    • Continue exercises as above.

    • Limit supination and pronation.

    • Change the long-arm cast to a short-arm cast (bridging callus indicates stability).

  • Following ORIF surgery

    • Advance therapy with gentle AROM of the wrist and gentle opposition and flexion/extension exercises to the thumb.

    • Continue elbow and shoulder exercises.

    • Remove the short-arm cast at 6 weeks if the fracture appears to be radiographically healed.

    • Use a wrist splint for protection.

Rehabilitation considerations in 8-12 weeks

  • For casted fractures

    • Remove the short-arm cast at 10-12 weeks if the fracture appears to be radiographically and clinically healed.

    • A wrist splint may be used for protection

  • For casted fractures and following ORIF

    • Consider pulsed electrical stimulation if no evidence of union is noted by 8 weeks, and consider surgery with bone grafting if progress is not observed by 12-14 weeks.

    • Advance therapy with gentle AROM of the wrist and with thumb exercises.

    • Begin grip strengthening with the use of silicone putty at 10 weeks.

    • Advance as tolerated to progressive resistive exercises (PREs).

Occupational therapy

The patient usually needs retraining in the performance of activities of daily living (ADL). The occupational therapist provides the patient with compensatory strategies to use when completing ADL tasks. Either physical or occupational therapy is necessary for regaining strength and ROM in the affected wrist and hand. The guidelines for rehabilitation are discussed above in the Physical Therapy section.

Medical Issues/Complications

See the list below:

  • Scaphoid injuries and prolonged casting - These result in missed workdays and decreased work efficiency.

  • Nonunion of scaphoid fracture[23, 24]

    • This complication is influenced by delayed diagnosis, gross displacement, associated injuries of the carpus, and impaired blood supply. Of these fractures, 40% are undiagnosed at the time of original injury.

    • Nonunion is 20% more common in smokers.[25]

    • The incidence of avascular necrosis is approximately 30-40%, occurring most frequently in fractures of the proximal third.

    • Scapholunate disassociation is a well-known complication of scaphoid fracture.

Surgical Intervention

Indications for immediate surgical referral include the following:

  • Fracture of the proximal pole
  • Fracture displaced more than 1 mm
  • Delayed presentation of acute fracture
  • Fracture associated with scapholunate ligament rupture
  • Carpal instability (lunate tilt on radiograph)
  • Work considerations, when early return is desired in cases of nondisplaced fracture
  • Evidence of nonunion or osteonecrosis

Displaced or unstable fractures require percutaneous pin fixation or compression screw fixation to prevent malunion. Internal fixation is accomplished with either smooth Kirschner wires or a Herbert screw.[6]

A literature review by Dunn et al indicated that scaphoid staple fixation is associated with a 94.7% union rate, with 95.7% of patients returning to work after 9.8 weeks, on average. The complication rate in the study was low (9.0%), with hardware removal required in 7.5% of cases.[26]

Surgery is increasingly used for patients (especially athletes) who will not tolerate prolonged casting.

Nonunions of the scaphoid are treated in one of the following ways:

  • Radial styloidectomy
  • Excision of the proximal fragment
  • Proximal row carpectomy
  • Traditional bone grafting
  • Total or partial arthrodesis of the wrist

Because of the significant time required for the union of proximal pole fractures, some surgeons recommend primary fixation of these fractures even when they are not displaced.

The Matti-Russe procedure involves treatment of nondisplaced fractures by excavation of the scaphoid and placement of a volar corticocancellous bone graft.

If the proximal pole is avascular and no significant radiocarpal arthritis is present, revascularization of the scaphoid bone with a vascularized bone graft from the radius may be attempted. A review of more than 5000 cases found that vascularized bone grafting (with or without internal fixation) was 91% successful, that nonvascularized bone grafting with internal fixation was 84% successful, and that nonvascularized bone grafting without internal fixation was 80% successful.[27]

A silicone carpal implant is no longer recommended.

Once degenerative arthritis is evident at the radiocarpal joint, salvage procedures include proximal row carpectomy, scaphoid excision, and intercarpal or total wrist arthrodesis.

Consultations

In general, consultation with a hand specialist or an orthopedic surgeon should be obtained for an open or unstable scaphoid fracture or for a scaphoid fracture that requires fixation.

Other Treatment

Please see the Physical Therapy section.

  • Nondisplaced fractures

    • Initially, nondisplaced fractures are treated with a long-arm thumb spica cast with the wrist in neutral position for 6 weeks, followed by a short-arm spica cast for an additional 6 weeks, until roentgenographic union is evident. If there is a displacement or widening of the fracture line after 6 weeks, the patient should be referred for surgical evaluation.

    • After immobilization, active ROM exercises to the forearm, wrist, and thumb should be performed 6-8 times daily.

    • A wrist-and-thumb static splint with the wrist in neutral should be worn between exercise sessions and at night.

  • Displaced fractures

    • These usually require ORIF using wires and screws.

    • Then, a short-arm thumb spica is needed for 8-12 weeks until roentgenographic union is evident.

    • At 4 months after surgery, dynamic wrist flexion and extension may be initiated.

    • At 6 months, the patient usually resumes normal use of his/her hand.

  • Electrical stimulation, or pulsed electromagnetic stimulation, has been proposed as beneficial in cases of nondisplaced scaphoid nonunion; however, this technique remains controversial, because no study has been conducted to compare the results of employing PES alone with those of using only cast immobilization.

Related Medscape Reference topic:

Thumb Spica Splinting

 

Medication

Medication Summary

Drugs used for pain management include analgesics. The agents used for mild to moderate pain, such as aspirin, acetaminophen, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), are nonopioids. These agents usually suffice; if they do not, however, the clinician can prescribe opiate agonists, such as codeine or propoxyphene.

Related Medscape resources:

CME/CE Acute Pain Management: Overcoming Barriers and Enhancing Treatment

Resource CenterPharmacologic Management of Pain

Analgesics

Class Summary

Effective management of pain is essential to quality patient care. Pain management improves the patient's quality of life, as well as his/her ability to work productively and to participate in self-care and physical therapy activities.

Acetaminophen (Tylenol, Panadol, Tempra)

Effective in relieving mild to moderate acute pain; however, acetaminophen has no peripheral anti-inflammatory effects. It may be preferred in elderly patients because of fewer GI and renal side effects.

Tramadol (Ultram)

Synthetic analog of codeine; however, tramadol has a lower affinity for opioid receptors than does codeine. It has less potential for abuse or respiratory depression than do other opiate agonists, but both may occur. Tramadol is equivalent in analgesic relief to codeine, but it is less potent than are acetaminophen-codeine and acetaminophen-hydrocodone combinations. A lack of significant cardiac effects and no association with peptic ulcer disease make tramadol an alternative in patients who may not tolerate NSAIDs.

Acetaminophen and codeine (Tylenol #3)

Used to treat moderate to severe pain. Tylenol #3 produces additive analgesia compared with the same doses of either agent alone. Dosage escalation of this combination is limited by the ceiling effect of acetaminophen.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

Class Summary

Have analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and antipyretic activities. Their mechanism of action is not known, but they may inhibit COX activity and prostaglandin synthesis. Other mechanisms may exist as well, such as the inhibition of leukotriene synthesis, lysosomal enzyme release, lipoxygenase activity, neutrophil aggregation, and various cell-membrane functions.

Ketoprofen (Orudis, Actron, Oruvail)

For relief of mild to moderate pain and inflammation.

Small dosages initially are indicated in small and elderly patients and in those with renal or liver disease.

Doses over 75 mg do not increase the therapeutic effects. Administer high doses with caution and closely observe the patient for a response.

Naproxen (Naprelan, Anaprox, Naprosyn)

For relief of mild to moderate pain; naproxen inhibits inflammatory reactions and pain by decreasing the activity of COX, which results in a decrease in prostaglandin synthesis.

Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil, Nuprin, Rufin)

Oral NSAID with analgesic and antipyretic properties. Ibuprofen is useful for the alleviation of mild to moderate pain.

Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) inhibitors

Class Summary

Although increased cost can be a negative factor, the incidence of costly and potentially fatal GI bleeds is clearly less with COX-2 inhibitors than with traditional NSAIDs. Ongoing analysis of cost avoidance of GI bleeds will further define the populations that will find COX-2 inhibitors the most beneficial.

Celecoxib (Celebrex)

Inhibits primarily COX-2. COX-2 is considered an inducible isoenzyme, being induced during pain and inflammatory stimuli. Inhibition of COX-1 may contribute to NSAID GI toxicity. At therapeutic concentrations, COX-1 isoenzyme is not inhibited; thus, GI toxicity may be decreased. Seek the lowest dose of celecoxib for the shortest duration in each patient.

COX-2 inhibitors have been associated with an increased risk of serious cardiovascular thrombotic events, including myocardial infarction and stroke, though the incidence of costly and potentially fatal GI bleeds is lower with COX-2 inhibitors than with traditional NSAIDs.

 

Follow-up

Further Outpatient Care

Individuals with scaphoid injuries require outpatient rehabilitation in order to regain ROM and strength in their affected joints. The course of treatment depends on the severity and location of the fracture. Different protocols are followed for patients who are treated with nonoperative casting techniques than are employed for patients who have undergone surgical fixation. Please see the Physical Therapy section for a discussion of rehabilitation principles and considerations for scaphoid fractures.

Patients with nondisplaced fractures treated with casting can return to full activity. Athletes and workers involved in heavy labor should continue to wear protection for 2 months after radiographic healing is complete.

Inpatient & Outpatient Medications

See the list below:

  • Oral analgesics should be sufficient to provide pain relief. Most commonly, NSAIDs are used along with acetaminophen. In some cases, narcotics may be used for 1-2 weeks. Tramadol also may be helpful for the first few weeks.

Deterrence

See the list below:

  • Encourage wrist protection and falling precautions when the patient engages in sporting activities, especially ice-skating, skateboarding, or in-line skating.

Complications

See the list below:

  • Aseptic necrosis - A higher incidence of aseptic necrosis and nonunion occurs with fractures of the proximal pole of the scaphoid, because no blood vessels enter it.

  • Degenerative arthritis of the radiocarpal joint

Prognosis

See the list below:

  • Using nonoperative casting technique, the expected rate of union is 90-98% within 10 weeks.

  • Prognosis is less favorable if the fracture is displaced, diagnosis is delayed, or the fracture is in the proximal or the middle third of the scaphoid bone.

  • Avascular necrosis develops in 30-40% of nonunion scaphoid fractures, most frequently in fractures of the proximal third of the scaphoid bone.

  • Fractures of the middle third of the scaphoid heal in 6-12 weeks, on average.

  • Distal-third fractures of the scaphoid heal in 4-8 weeks, on average.

  • Proximal-third fractures of the scaphoid heal in 12-20 weeks, on average.

  • Chronic pain, decreased ROM, and decreased grip strength may result.