A fall onto an outstretched hand can lead to hand injury, most commonly a wrist or finger fracture.  Hand injury is extraordinarily common in sports.  Other common considerations include wrist sprain, or the subtle and sometimes missed ‘scaphoid fracture’.


Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy is one of the best defensive tackles in the game. In Sunday’s game against the Rams, Gerald McCoy left the game in the second quarter with a hand injury. Team doctor’s quickly diagnosed the injury as a broken hand and declared him out for the rest of the game. He was seen on the sidelines with the hand heavily wrapped and held in position with a sling.

The hand is one of the most intricate and complex structures in the human skeletal system. Including the wrist, the hand consists of 27 bones. These bones include the carpals, metacarpals, and phalanges. The carpals are the bones that make up the wrists. The metacarpals are the bones that make up the palm of the hand. The phalanges are the bones that make up the thumb and fingers. Many of these bones are small and thin and can break quite easily if there is forceful and direct contact to the hand. A broken hand can also occur from an abnormal twisting motion or from the hand being crushed in a fall. If any of these 27 bones are broken then the general diagnosis is a broken hand. However, this diagnosis can be further elaborated by stating both the type of fracture and the bone in which the fracture has occurred.


The symptoms of a broken hand include tenderness, swelling, decreased range of motion of hand or finger, and deformity. A broken hand can put a large amount of burden on the injured because the hands are such an important part of our everyday life. Simple tasks like driving, typing, and writing can become very difficult with a broken hand. However, it is important that you do not continue to utilize this hand to complete these activities if you fear your hand is broken. Visit your family doctor and an osteopathic physician to determine the proper treatment of for your hand.  The doctor will first examine the condition of the skin, the position of the fingers, and the range of motion. The doctor will then schedule an X-ray to identify the location of the fracture and the extent of the fracture.  Contact our award winning sports medicine doctors to evaluate you today.

Once the location and the extent of the fracture are determined, the bones can typically be realigned without surgery. Typically, a splint or brace is used to hold the bone in the proper position to heal. Follow up X-rays are needed to determine that the bone is healing in the proper position. The healing process requires about three to six weeks of proper immobilization. Occasionally, surgery is required to align bones properly. The cases that require surgery are typically the ones where the bone has pierced through the skin. The surgery involves using screws, plates or wires to hold the bones in place. The healing process from surgical repair is usually eight to twelve weeks but can take longer depending on the fracture and the patient.

Gerald McCoy’s broken hand does not require surgery and will be looked at on a week-to-week basis. It is highly unlikely to play this week and is probably questionable for the next week as well, but there is a chance he could return as soon as week 5.

© 2023 Dr. Robert Afra – San Diego Orthopedic Surgery Shoulder – Knee – Elbow