Bennett Fracture: Diagnosis and Treatment

Bennett fracture involves the base of the thumb, where it articulates with the bones of the wrist.

Before reading further please see the Hand Anatomy to get a better understanding (skip if you have already done so).

The bone that is fractured is called 1st Metacarpal. The fracture involves the lower part (proximal) of this bone and extends into the joint. The smaller fracture fragment stays attached to the wrist bones and the larger fragment is displaced along with the whole thumb (red arrow in graphic).

Site of Bennett Fracture anatomy of bennett fracture

Symptoms include

  • pain
  • swelling
  • loss of function (inability to grip any object forcefully with the thumb)
  • tenderness over the base of the thumb

Diagnosis is confirmed by x rays of the hand.

As this fracture involves the joint surfaces therefore the bony fragments have to be aligned as perfectly as possible. Failure to do so may result in subsequent arthritis of the joint. This perfect alignment of the fracture fragments can only be achieved surgically.

Treatment is by
  • plaster cast if the fracture is hairline (fracture fragments have not separated from each other)
  • surgery if the fracture fragments are separated (displaced fracture)
During surgery traction (pulling force) is applied to the thumb and simultaneously the surgeon applies pressure to the base of the thumb to approximate the fracture fragments. Then a K wire (stainless steel 1.5 or 2mm wire) is drilled across to hold the fragments in place.

Frequently Asked Questions

When can I suspect that I have this injury?

If after injuring your hand you have the following symptoms then you may have this fracture

  • severe pain in the base of the thumb
  • swelling over base of the thumb
  • inability to touch the base of the little finger with the tip of your thumb
  • your thumb appears shorter than its counterpart

Thumb opposition

You can not do this movement if you have Bennett Fracture

What can I expect when I reach the hospital?

After reaching the hospital

  • your hand will be examined gently
  • x ray of your hand will be taken
  • splint will be applied to your hand
  • doctor may recommend surgery

How long will I need to stay in the hospital after surgery?

If all goes well you may be discharged the same day or the next day.

After how long will I regain full use of my hand?

It usually takes 2 to 3 months to regain full function of the hand.

I hope the information provided was helpful. If you have any query you can ask me at the contact me page.

This page was last updated on 6th February 2009.

Other causes of hand pain....

Compartment Syndrome

Rolando Fracture

Dupuytren Contracture

Hand Infection

Hand Injury

Go back to Hand Pain from Bennett Fracture


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