Proximal Pole Scaphoid Fracture - Recovery Time & Bone Growth Stimulator
I broke my scaphoid last year and just wanted to pay back to a source of comfort and sometimes fear. I google'd scaphoid fracture once I found out and learned a lot about the injury from this forum.
Anyways, it was September 27th, 2013 and I was out for a rip with my friends until I fell landing off a jump and caught myself on the landing. I didn't feel much pain at the time and don't remember hearing any noises, just felt like I maybe sprained it. I woke up the next morning in a good bit of pain in my wrist, unable to pick anything up with it. I shrugged it off again since there was no swelling or bruising, just a 'bad sprain' I told myself especially when it felt tenfold better the next day.
Five weeks later my wrist was still not right. I could mostly use it and continued mountain biking on it and going to the gym but clearly there was something up so I went in for the x-ray. Sure enough I found out I have a proximal pole scaphoid fracture. See below to learn more of the anatomy of scaphoid.
The way the doctor broke it down for me is the distal pole is most common and easiest to heal (~4-6 weeks). The waist is slightly less common and longer to heal (~6-8 weeks). And last but not least, the proximal is least likely and usually takes anywhere from 8-16 weeks. Needless to say I was bummed. You have two primary options: 1) cast it and wait or 2) surgery to either screw it together or promote healing.
It should also be noted that a big risk with this fracture is Avascular necrosis (AVN). Look into it.
I chose casting because of budget and I'd rather not be cut open. I went eight weeks in a cast midway up my forearm only to be CT'd and find partial healing. I was bummed and feared AVN but was told it was in healthy condition just slow at healing. This is when I was told my options again were cast with fear of never fully healing, no cast with fear of never healing, surgery to promote healing, or a bone growth stimulator.
Wait a what? Is this Sky Mall? I laughed at the idea of a bone growth stimulator and could only speculate the price. Initially I ruled it out but found out the office offered some low-income sponsorship that actually got the stimulator ($3000) for FREE. Since I was a college student, living on my own and making under a certain threshold I qualified to get it for free. Skeptical of it's ability to do anything, I went another 6 weeks in a cast using the bone growth stimulator for 3 hours every day.
Lo and behold, my fracture healed completely. I had to do another 4 weeks in a splint after my second cast to ease back into things. No major surgery and regained 95% of my wrist motion. Hopefully this success story helps someone else out. I'm a healthy 22 year old male and made sure I didn't use my wrist much while it was casted.
Thanks man for sharing, there is comfort in hearing others experiences. This injury is very terrifying, especially after research including this forum. The scaphoid gets the least amount of blood flow of any bone in the human body. And its such a critical part of doing regular life stuff. Really a shitty bone to break.
Here's my story
Crashed at the Snowmass big mountain enduro. I was having a great stage and my front wheel lined up just slightly off the trail at one point and the high speed sent me rapidly over the bars. It was right under the gondola and I imagine it looked spectacular from that view. I thought at first it was just a sprained wrist and wrapped it and dropped out of the race. After 3 weeks of little improvement I got the Xray. I had a fracture right through the center of the waist barely attached at the far right side.
I am just about to get my cast off which will be 9 weeks after the break. I didn't know it was broken for the first 3 weeks but wore an old brace I had. Once it was discovered I was told by doc #1 that there is a 50% chance of it healing on its own and he thought I should get surgery.
Second opinion doc told me 90% chance in cast but he wouldn't hesitate to get the surgery as its fairly routine. Like you I did not want to get cut and cost was significantly more (although nothing compared to use of your wrist for the rest of your life). I went for the cast and lived as healthy as possible- no smoking weed (but eating OK ) no alcohol (**** me) and lots of good food and rest. I was powered by the fear and cost of surgery and was a very good healthy boy. First xray 2 weeks later showed small amount of healing and that the bone was generally healthy. 2 weeks later showed a lot of progress and now I get it off 2 weeks later. I guess brace after that then freedom. After everything I learned I feel EXTREMELY lucky to get off this easy.
The biggest takeaway on this injury is do NOT **** around with it, its serious.
Glad it healed for you. I broke my scaffoid skateboaring and like you, no swelling or crack sound so I chalked the pain up to old age. 2 years later I fell on my other wrist and while doc was comparing range of motion he stated "I'm more worried about your other wrist". Turns out it had been broke for a couple years leaving ground a mass of mostly dead tissue. 8 weeks in cast + 3 more weeks in recast. Surgery, bone graft, pins... x-ray of scaffoid now looks like a barbell. A piece of bone at each end with a pin holding them together in the middle. The bone graft that was there (took from pelvis) disintegrated leaving an open gap. Doesn't affect my riding, but sure can't open a jar like I used to. Glad yours healed, I'm sure you've read about many outcomes that were, shall we say, less fortunate than yours. Ride on...
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