What is a Rolando Fracture?

What is a Rolando Fracture?

A Rolando fracture is a serious injury of the thumb that can be incredibly unstable, making treatment a challenge. While some people might not realize it, the thumb is arguably the most important digit on the hand. Because the thumb opposes the other four fingers, it is critical in grip strength. Without the thumb, people might have trouble picking up objects and holding items. An injury to the thumb can seriously hamper someone’s quality of life.

Because of this, it is important for everyone to understand the basics of a Rolando fracture. If someone has been diagnosed with this injury, they might be facing a prolonged recovery process.

What is the Mechanism of a Rolando Fracture?

In a Rolando fracture, the hand sustains a direct blow while the thumb is flexed, such as in the shape of a fist. This comes in contrast to a hand is that is extended while someone falls, as is common in other injuries. If the thumb is curled inward in the shape of a fist while an impact occurs, it might lead to this injury.

There are several ways this injury might occur. First, if someone is involved in an auto accident, their thumb and fingers might be wrapped around the steering wheel at the time of impact. This can expose their thumb to this injury. Similar situations might be encountered in a bicycle accident or motorcycle accident. Other common mechanisms include a slip and fall accident or a crush injury involving a direct impact to the base of the thumb. If someone sustains an injury to their hand in a traumatic accident, the next step is the diagnosis.

Diagnosis of this Injury

If someone presents to the doctor’s office following an accident involving their hand or fingers, the physician will perform a detailed physical exam. The doctor is going to test the strength and range of motion of the hand and fingers. Because this fracture is unstable, there will be evidence of significant weakness in the thumb. This will prompt the doctor to order medical imaging.

Typically, an x-ray alone is enough to diagnose this injury. The x-ray will be taken from multiple angles. In this injury, the thumb is typically broken in multiple spots, creating a T or a Y shape in the thumb itself. When the thumb breaks into multiple pieces, the muscles surrounding the thumb are able to pull on the bone fragments without any opposition from the other side. As a result, the muscles are able to pull the bone fragments out of position.

This is why the injury is unstable. The thumb has been broken into multiple pieces, making this a comminuted injury. In some cases, other imaging modalities (such as an MRI) might be used to look for other associated injuries; however, an x-ray alone is typically enough to diagnose this injury.

The Treatment of this Thumb Fracture

Because the muscles in the hand and thumb have pulled the bone fragments out of position, this injury almost universally requires surgical reduction and internal fixation. When the surgeon opens up the hand to perform the repair, he or she will try to restore the joint surface as much as possible. This will help someone avoid long-term symptoms and prevent the development of early-onset arthritis.

The surgeon will use screws, plates, and wires to place the bone fragments back in the proper position. The surgeon will also inspect the ligaments in the hand itself and ensure that these aren’t torn. In general, a Rolando fracture has a poorer prognosis than other fractures in this location; however, it is possible for people to make a full recovery after this injury. It might take some time, but with the help of medical specialists and physical therapy, someone can restore the strength in their thumb.

Roseville Personal Injury Lawyers

I’m Ed Smith, a Roseville Personal Injury Lawyer. A Rolando fracture is a serious injury of the thumb that might lead to long-term complications. Those who develop a thumb fracture due to the negligence of another person or entity should contact me at (800) 404-5400 and/or (916) 921-6400 to receive free, friendly legal guidance and advice.

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Attribution of Photograph: The photo placed at the top of this article was located originally on Pixabay & has been used here with the guidance of the Creative Commons License.

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