As seasoned personal injury attorneys in Atlanta, over the years we have represented numerous people with serious hand fracture injuries. Our hands are the tool of tools, distinguishing humans from apes. If you work with your hands, your brain, and your heart, you are an artist, whether as a construction worker or a surgeon. The loving touch of a hand by a parent or a lover is essential for nonverbal communication. Loss of full use of a hand can have devastating effects on productivity and quality of life.
Hand fractures are common injuries that can significantly impact one’s daily life and functionality. Whether it’s due to a car or truck crash, a fall, a workplace accident, or a sports injury, hand fractures require prompt attention and appropriate treatment to ensure proper healing and restore optimal hand function.
Hand fractures can occur as a result of various causes. Some of the most common causes include:
- Direct impacts: Falls and car and truck accidents often lead to hand fractures. Direct blows or forceful impacts on the hand can cause bones to break. We have seen many variations of this type of hand injury. Repeatedly over the years, we have represented people whose hands were broken through a variety of impacts in car and truck crashes.
- Crush Injuries: Heavy objects falling onto the hand or getting caught in machinery can result in fractures. Crushing forces can cause bone fractures and damage surrounding tissues.
We have represented workers whose hands were crushed due to defects in the design or manufacture of machinery on which they were assigned to work. In one case, a carpet mill worker’s hand was drawn into a machine and crushed. We discovered that the manufacturer of carpet laminating equipment had disregarded instructions from the manufacturer of an emergency stop component. The equipment manufacturer omitted the emergency cutoff from that side of machines and the e-stop on the other side was never connected. By the time a co-worker was able to turn off the machine, our client’s hand and arms had been crushed between rollers.
3. Repetitive Stress: Certain repetitive motions or activities, such as those involved in certain types of work, can lead to stress fractures over time. These fractures typically occur due to overuse and inadequate rest periods.
Symptoms of Hand Fracture Injuries: Identifying the symptoms of hand fractures is crucial for early detection and appropriate medical intervention. Common signs and symptoms of hand fractures include:
1. Pain and Swelling: Fractures are typically accompanied by localized pain and swelling. The affected area may become tender and sensitive to touch.
2. Deformity: Hand fractures can cause visible deformity, such as misalignment or angulation of fingers or hand bones. The affected area may appear crooked or visibly out of place.
3. Limited Range of Motion: Fractures can restrict the normal range of motion of the hand and fingers. Inability to move fingers or hand joints, or experiencing pain while attempting to do so, may indicate a fracture.
Treatment Options for Hand Fracture Injuries: The treatment of hand fractures depends on various factors, including the type and location of the fracture, as well as the severity of the injury. Common treatment options for hand fractures include:
1. Immobilization: In cases of stable fractures or minor injuries, immobilization may be sufficient for healing. This involves applying a splint, cast, or brace to immobilize the hand and promote proper bone alignment.
2. Hand surgery aims to restore proper alignment, stability, and function to the fractured bones and surrounding structures.
- Open Reduction: During surgery, an open reduction is performed to realign the broken bones. The surgeon makes an incision near the fracture site to access the bones directly. They manipulate the bones back into their proper position, ensuring alignment and stability.
- Internal Fixation: Once the bones are aligned, internal fixation techniques are used to hold the fracture in place while it heals. This may involve the use of screws, plates, wires, or pins, depending on the location and complexity of the fracture. These devices provide stability and support to facilitate proper healing.
- External Fixation: In certain cases, external fixation may be employed. This involves the use of pins or wires inserted into the bone above and below the fracture, which are then connected to an external frame. The frame holds the bones in alignment during the healing process.
- Bone Grafting: If there is significant bone loss or a gap between the fractured bone ends, bone grafting may be necessary. In this procedure, bone tissue is taken from another part of the body (autograft) or sourced from a donor (allograft) to fill the gap and promote bone regeneration.
- Soft Tissue Repair: Hand fractures often involve damage to the surrounding soft tissues, such as ligaments, tendons, or nerves. During surgery, the surgeon may repair these structures to ensure proper healing and restore hand function.
Rehabilitation: Once a hand fracture is stabilized, rehabilitation plays a vital role in restoring hand function. Physical therapy exercises, which are often quite painful on the path to healing, help improve range of motion, strength, and flexibility. Hand therapy may also include techniques to reduce swelling and manage pain. In injury litigation, we have found the testimony of a good hand physical therapist is often essential for explaining clearly what the patient endured. Physical therapy for hand fractures generally includes:
1. Range of Motion Exercises: After a hand fracture, the affected hand may experience stiffness and limited range of motion. Physical therapists design specific exercises to gradually increase the flexibility and mobility of the injured hand. These exercises may include gentle stretching, finger movements, and wrist rotations to improve joint mobility.
2. Strengthening Exercises: Hand fractures can lead to muscle weakness due to immobilization and reduced use. Physical therapists prescribe strengthening exercises to rebuild muscle strength in the hand and fingers. These exercises may involve squeezing a stress ball, using therapy putty, or performing resistance exercises with therapeutic bands.
3. Functional Activities: Physical therapy focuses on improving hand function for daily activities. Therapists guide patients through activities that simulate real-life tasks, such as buttoning shirts, gripping objects, or writing. These functional exercises help patients regain dexterity and coordination.
4. Scar Management: Hand fractures often result in surgical incisions or scars. Physical therapists employ techniques to minimize scar tissue formation and improve scar mobility. This may include scar massage, gentle stretching, and the application of specialized creams or ointments.
5. Edema Control: Swelling, or edema, is a common issue following hand fractures. Physical therapists employ various techniques to reduce swelling, such as elevation, compression bandages, and lymphatic drainage techniques. By minimizing edema, therapy can enhance range of motion and facilitate healing.
6. Pain Management: Hand fractures can be accompanied by pain and discomfort. Physical therapists utilize modalities like heat or cold therapy, ultrasound, or electrical stimulation to alleviate pain and promote tissue healing.
7. Patient Education: Physical therapists educate patients on proper hand and finger ergonomics, joint protection techniques, and strategies to prevent re-injury. They provide guidance on activity modifications and recommend assistive devices, if necessary, to support hand function during the recovery process. It is important to note that physical therapy interventions are tailored to the individual’s specific needs and the severity of their hand fracture. Working closely with a skilled physical therapist ensures that the rehabilitation process is safe, effective, and personalized. In conclusion, physical therapy plays a critical role in the recovery and rehabilitation of hand fractures. Through a combination of range of motion exercises, strengthening techniques, functional activities, scar management, edema control, pain management, and patient education, physical therapists help individuals regain optimal hand function and return to their daily activities with confidence. If you have experienced a hand fracture, consult with a qualified physical therapist to develop a comprehensive rehabilitation plan tailored to your unique needs.
If you or a loved one have suffered a fractured hand injury, submit our inquiry form or call us now at 404-253-7862.
Johnson & Ward has been a leading personal injury and wrongful death specialty law firm in Atlanta since 1949. The founders of the firm were also among the founders of the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association. Current partners include former presidents of the State Bar of Georgia and the Atlanta Bar Association.
Ken Shigley, senior counsel at Johnson & Ward, is a former president of the State Bar of Georgia (2011-12). He was the first Georgia lawyer to earn three board certifications from the National Board of Trial Advocacy (Civil Trial Advocacy, Civil Pretrial Advocacy, and Truck Accident Law). In 2019, he received the Traditions of Excellence Award for lifetime achievement. Mr. Shigley was the lead author of eleven editions of Georgia Law of Torts: Trial Preparation and Practice (Thomson Reuters, 2010-21). He graduated from Furman University and Emory University Law School, and completed certificate courses in trial practice, negotiation and mediation at Harvard Law School.