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Metacarpal neck / shaft / base fracture of the hand

Patient information A-Z

What is a metacarpal fracture?

You have broken one of the long bones in the palm of your hand. The location of the break will depend on how the injury happened. This injury can happen in a variety of ways from falling onto an outstretched hand to hitting an object with a clenched fist.

It is common to see a bump appear over the back of the hand where the fracture is located.

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Swelling and bruising at the fracture site is normal. Simple, over the counter pain killers and applying ice to the area will help to reduce swelling and pain. Ice should be applied, wrapped in a tea towel, for 20 minutes three to four times a day.

These fractures can be protected by strapping the fractured finger to the finger next to it. This acts as a splint to protect the healing bone from too much strain, but also allows early movement.


These exercises will help in maintaining the mobility of your fingers and should be started as soon as you are able to move your fingers.

  • Start with your fingers straight then bend them all forward keeping the back knuckles flat like a table top.
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  • Start with your fingers straight then hook them all forward keeping the back knuckles straight.
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  • Start with your fingers straight then make a full fist with them all.
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  • Start with all your fingers relaxed then pull your fingers up into a hooked finger position.
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You should:

  • Keep the strapping on at all times, even at night.
  • Move your fingers whilst wearing the strapping to prevent your joints from becoming stiff.
  • Elevate your hand to heart height in the early days after your injury to help reduce the swelling.
  • Avoid contact sports for six weeks after injury.

You should not:

  • Wear any rings on this hand until the injured finger has healed.
  • Grip or lift anything heavy until you reach the end of the strapping period.
  • Miss your appointment with the hand specialist or hand therapist if one has been requested.

We are smoke-free

Smoking is not allowed anywhere on the hospital campus. For advice and support in quitting, contact your GP or the free NHS stop smoking helpline on 0800 169 0 169.

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Cambridge University Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust
Hills Road, Cambridge

Telephone +44 (0)1223 245151