The Fighter's Fracture

Thumbnail image for Punch+In+The+Face.jpgAlthough this injury in the past was known to be common amongst the boxing community, it has quickly become a frequent experience to many MMA fighters.  Because there is less protection of the hands, for example a 4 ounce fingerless glove verse the 8 or 10 ounce glove used in boxing, it is no longer unique to the boxer.  

This injury, usually caused by the smashing of the dorsal side (back) of the hand is located at the fifth metacarpal (base of the 5th finger).   It is also referred to as a 5th Metacarpal Fracture.

Thumbnail image for couture_champ.jpgLike any fracture, it should be first evaluated by an orthopedist or a hand surgeon, but even an emergency care center can assess the degree and location of a fracture with an xray.  Depending upon the severity of the break, whether there is ligament or tendon damage (tears),  or dislocation of the wrist as well, it is best to see a hand specialist even after it has been first examined by an ER or immediate care center for the initial injury evaluation.

Swelling and pain will occur on the backside of the hand with an angular or rotational deformity.  Deformity can also occur within the finger, appearing to be twisted at the joint.  Bruising to fingers and dorsal (backside) of the hand may also occur.  However, discoloration of the hand is not always indicative to the severity of the injury

The degree of swelling can range from person to person which of course is effected by the amount of ligament and tendon damage that might be present.  Often this would lead to the need for surgery which is why a hand specialist is needed soon after the injury occurs to make this determination.

Other than swelling, a possible hemoatoma formation, articular adhesions and complete stiffness, it is the presence of shooting pain from the hand up the arm that scares most people.  Although extreme swelling and inflammation still requires an orthopedist’s care, I would also consider a chinese medicine professional with an acupuncture license to help reduce the swelling and deal with some of the pain management.


It is important the remember the acronym RICE – Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.  If,  after applying the RICE method and pain still exists, seek the medical attention of a physician.

If a physician determines there is a fracture, the hand will be splinted for approximately 4 weeks after which range of motion exercises will be prescribed to facilitate healing.


• Hand gripping with a squeeze ball or hand grip.

• Various wrist rolls with small weights (rolling wrist towards the forearm).

• Isolated movement of each finger (up and down 20-40 reps each).

• Strengthening of the wrist joint by placing both hands flat against each other and slowly pushing.

• Spreading and closing the fingers.

a_200ChineseHandMassageChimeB.jpgChinese hand balls (sometimes called Chinese health balls or qi gong balls) have a long history in China.  They are available in various sizes and are made of different materials such as steel, bronze, jade, glass and marble. Stand or sit. Hold the balls in one hand. Keep your forearm parallel to the ground.

Beginners usually start with two balls. Once you become more adept it’s possible to rotate 4, 6, or more balls in one hand.

Use your fingers to move the balls around your palm, first one way then the other.

Initially this may be difficult, however with practice you’ll be able to rotate them smoothly and quickly.

The balls should stay in constant touch, and not bang against each other.

·      Stretches & tones your hand & arm tendons
·      Stimulates important energy meridians in your hands
·      Improves strength, coordination & dexterity in your hands & forearms
·      Highly relaxing – good for chronic worriers & over-thinkers
·      Excellent warm-up before activities involving your hands & forearms
·      Highly therapeutic for anyone with arthritic or rheumatic finger or wrist joints

·      Don’t overdo it at first – 1 or 2 minutes per hand is enough
·      Don’t practice over hard surfaces – the balls easily break
·      Take a set of hand balls when traveling or to work

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