The metacarpals are the long bones in the hand. There are five metacarpals counting from one for the thumb and five for the little finger. A fifth metacarpal fracture is the most common metacarpal fracture and usually occurs from hitting a hard object. That is why a 5th metacarpal fracture is called a boxer’s fracture. Fractures of the 4th and 5th metacarpal may also occur from falling onto the hand. Most frequently the bone fractures close to the MP joint where the little finger joins the hand. Fractures of the 2nd and 3rd metacarpals (those attaching to the index and long fingers) are a less frequently occuring fracture.
Pain, swelling, and tenderness and bruising on the little finger side of the hand are the most common symptoms. There may be a bump on the top or little finger side of the hand or it may look crooked. Pain will be felt particularly when trying to make a fist and the little finger may not straighten out fully when the fingers are extended.
Treatment for metacarpal fractures includes having it x-rayed to determine the location and extent of the fracture. If the fracture is in good alignment, a cast or splint will be used to hold the ring and little fingers bent at the large (MP) knuckle and straight at the middle and end joints. This keeps the tissues around the joint on a stretch so they do not tighten up while the fracture heals. Healing generally takes 4 to 6 weeks.