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A Bennett’s Fracture is the fracture and dislocation of the joint in the thumb. It's common among sports people of all kinds. Seen in rugby players, footballers and boxers as well as a range of other individuals, it is a fracture which can cause serious issues because of the dual nature of the damage caused.
The fracture occurs at the base of the metacarpal bone of the thumb, which usually fractures at the surface of the joint between this and the carpal bones of the wrist. This joint, known as the Carpo-Metarcarpal connection or CMC joint, is usually supported and stabilised by a ligament known as the Deep Ulnar. In instances of injury in this area not only does the metacarpal bone fracture, but there is also a level of disconnection caused between this particular ligament and the surrounding bones, leading to a dislocated thumb.
Thumb injuries can be due to a range of movements, most of which include a traumatic force passing the length of the bone whilst the CMC joint is in a semi-bent position. This would be the case in a punching motion, which is why the injury is common in boxers, but it also can occur during other activities or even through a hard fall where the thumb connects with the ground at the wrong angle. It was named the Bennett’s Fracture in the late nineteenth century, when Dr Bennett described his injury after an accident whilst horse riding. Today wearing a thumb spica can help with rehabilitation and compression, though the injury itself remains common in people of all walks of life.
Symptoms of a Bennett’s Fracture generally manifest as a serious pain in the area around the bottom of the thumb where it connects to the hand, alongside a very rapid growth of swelling and tenderness around the thumb and into the wrist. This limits movement and use of the limb, as any attempts to carry out normal activities are met with severe discomfort. To confirm the presence of this injury an x-ray would need to be taken by a qualified professional, who would then be able to help with treatment and support.
These kinds of thumb injuries need to be carefully managed to avoid future instances of arthritic degeneration. Detachment of the ligament can cause weakening in the joint, so thumb injuries which are not properly treated can have significant consequences later in life. After consulting with a healthcare provider, several options can become available. Use of a wrist support with a thumb spica is usually one of the first routes. It helps to hold the thumb in the correct position whilst the fracture is repaired and tissues redevelop. During healing the use of anti-inflammatory gels and heat treatments can also be very soothing for thumb injuries, helping to ease discomfort.