Possible Scaphoid Fracture of the Wrist in Children: Care Instructions

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Your child may have a scaphoid fracture (also called a navicular fracture). This is a break in a small bone on the thumb side of your child's wrist. It can cause pain and swelling in the wrist and make it hard to move the wrist or thumb. Treatment for this type of break includes wearing an arm cast or splint and, in some cases, having surgery.

Even if the first X-rays don't show a break, there may be one. So the doctor will want your child to wear a splint to protect the injured wrist. It is better to do this than risk not treating a break and possibly delay healing. Your child will need a follow-up X-ray in 1 to 2 weeks. Or the doctor may order another test such as an MRI.

It is important to follow the doctor's instructions, because parts of the scaphoid bone do not have a good blood supply. This can make healing slow and difficult if the bone is broken.

The doctor has checked your child carefully, but problems can develop later. If you notice any problems or new symptoms, get medical treatment right away.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
    • If the doctor gave your child a prescription medicine for pain, give it as prescribed.
    • If your child is not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if your child can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • Put ice or a cold pack on your child's wrist for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Try to do this every 1 to 2 hours for the next 3 days (when your child is awake) or until the swelling goes down. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your child's skin.
  • Prop up your child's wrist on pillows when your child sits or lies down in the first few days after the injury. Keep the wrist higher than the level of the heart. This will help reduce swelling.
  • Follow the doctor's directions for wearing a cast or splint.
  • Help your child heal with healthy habits.
    • Give your child a variety of healthy foods.
    • Keep your child away from smoke. Do not smoke or let anyone else smoke around your child or in your house.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has problems with the cast or splint. For example:
    • The skin under the cast or splint is burning or stinging.
    • The cast or splint feels too tight.
    • There is a lot of swelling near the cast or splint. (Some swelling is normal.)
    • Your child has a new fever.
  • Your child has new or worse pain, swelling, or warmth in the wrist.
  • Your child's fingers turn cold or change color.
  • Your child has tingling, weakness, or numbness in the hand and fingers.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • Your child has problems with the cast or splint.
  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.