The scaphoid bone is one of the carpal bones within the wrist which provides stability and motion to the hand as it meets with the forearm. Being such an important bone in force transmission and in maintaining proper alignment of the surrounding bones, injuries to it, as well as its surrounding ligaments, can have quite debilitating consequences. A fracture, or break, of the scaphoid bone itself can occur from a blunt injury or falling onto an outstretched hand. Bones require good blood supply to allow for healing and the scaphoid is notoriously poor in this regard. As such, suspected injury to the scaphoid requires prompt evaluation, imaging (which may include x-rays as well as CT scan and MRI), and immobilization with or without surgical fixation with screws or pins.
Additionally, a tear to the surrounding ligaments, most notably the ligament between the scaphoid and lunate (both carpal bones) is also of high importance in maintaining the stability and proper alignment of all the bones in the wrist. This injury also may require ligament repair or reconstruction to reestablish the relationship between the two bones to allow for a more functional recovery.
As we go into this evening watching the Houston Rockets traverse the NBA playoffs, they are notably without one of their star players, Pat Beverley, with an injury possible similar to those described above. He has been out of competition for several months now, recovering from his surgery/injury.
A fall onto the wrist, even a fairly minor one, may result in an injury such as those mentioned above. These injuries often require lengthy periods of immobilization in a cast or splint, and possible surgery. The diagnosis and treatment for these injuries should be discussed at length with your physician, as sometimes several options exist. However, prompt evaluation and treatment is key in limiting the amount of residual pain, weakness, instability, stiffness, and arthritis in the future, as a result of these injuries.