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Physical Therapy for a 5th Metacarpal Fracture

author image Lynn Hetzler
Lynn Hetzler has been a writer since 2000. She was editor in chief and head writer for the online publication Eye on Cameraware. She owns a computer store offering repair, websites, instruction, and more. Hetzler is a certified medical assistant with experience in oncology, laboratory testing and protocol writing.
Physical Therapy for a 5th Metacarpal Fracture
The 5th metacarpal bone connects your little finger to your wrist Photo Credit: Ming Onn Boey/iStock/Getty Images

A fracture of the 5th metacarpal bone usually occurs from hitting a hard object with a closed fist, according to the 5th Metacarpal Fracture website, earning the nickname “the boxer’s fracture.” Athletes who use their hands are at high risk for breaking this long, thin bone but this fracture commonly occurs when a person punches a hard object with his fist. Repair often involves immobilization of your hand and you may even need surgery. Your doctor will recommend you begin physical therapy as soon as she removes your cast.

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Your doctor will tell you when to start physical therapy and suggest specific exercises. Do not start any physical therapy program until your doctor has determined your bones have healed sufficiently to withstand the stress of exercise. Your doctor will recommend specific exercises at different times during your recovery, depending on the severity and location of the metacarpal fracture.

Stretching Exercises

Start stretching exercises as soon as the doctor removes your cast. Stretching exercises increase the range of motion in your fingers and hand. Do these stretching exercises several times a day to reduce pain and stiffness and return function. For best results, do all exercises in three sets of ten. Repeat these exercises several times each day to reduce pain and stiffness.

Perform the flexion exercise by bending your wrist forward and holding for five seconds. Bend your wrist backwards and hold for five seconds to perform the extension exercise. Finally, gently move your wrist side to side in a handshaking motion, holding your hand for five seconds at each end.

Strengthening Exercises

You may begin strengthening exercises when stretching exercises are nearly painless, according to the Summit Medical Group. Perform exercises, like the opposition stretch, several times a day to increase grip strength and finger agility. The opposition stretch starts with your hand on a table, palm up. Touch the tip of your small finger with your thumb. Hold each position for six seconds. Repeat ten times.

Resistance Exercises

Some physical therapy exercises incorporate resistance training to strengthen your hand. Flexion exercises begin with your hand on a table, palm side up, while holding an empty can. Flex your wrist slowly, raising the can towards the ceiling. Gradually increase the weight of the cans as your wrist gains strength.

Gripping a rubber ball increases overall hand strength after 5th metacarpal fracture. Increase finger strength by wrapping a large rubber band around your thumb and fingers. Open your fingers to stretch the rubber band. These strengthening exercises reduce pain and speed recovery.

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