Rehab for Scaphoid Fractures

Hand bandaged in blue plaster

Performing rehabilitation exercises after suffering a scaphoid fracture can help you retain full function and mobility in your wrist. Special exercises help strengthen the wrist and increase range of motion in the joint. Rehabilitation begins shortly after cast removal or after you have healed from surgery to repair the bone.


The scaphoid bone is a small bone located at the base of the thumb next to the radius, one of the bones in the lower arm. The scaphoid bone is one of eight bones that work together when you bend your wrist. Scaphoid fractures occur when an injury causes compression of the scaphoid bone against the radius. The fracture may occur when your extended arm strikes the ground or other hard surface, such as if you try to brace yourself during a car accident. Doctors use casts, metal pins or braces to treat injuries, depending on the severity of the fractures. Surgery, followed by casting, may be needed if the bone moves out of position or is in the proper position but fails to heal after casting.


Both the bone and the soft tissue must be fully healed before rehabilitation can begin. Healing may take up to six months, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Your doctor will use X-rays or bone scans to determine if you scaphoid bone is sufficiently healed and you can begin rehabilitation. Your doctor may refer you to a physical therapist, who will teach you the proper way to perform wrist exercises.

Strengthening Exercises

Strengthening muscles help build up muscles and bones that may have grown weak during treatment. You can perform wrist extension or flexion exercises at home using a lightweight object, such as soup can or hammer. Both exercises start with your hand flat and extended. During the extension exercise, you will turn your palm toward the floor, grasp the object and slowly bend your wrist toward the ceiling before returning to the starting position. Flexion exercises begin with your palm facing toward the ceiling. During this exercise, you also bend your wrist upward. Performing the exercise 10 times will help strengthen the wrist. When your wrist feels stronger, you can increase the number of repetitions and the weight you use.

Range of Motion Exercises

Your wrist may be stiff after weeks or months in a cast. Performing range of motion exercises that bend the wrist will help you move your wrist normally. Squeezing a flexible ball or a tennis ball can help reduce pain and stiffness. After squeezing the ball, rest your hand for four or five seconds, then repeat nine times. Perform the exercise three times daily. The Sport Science Orthopaedic Clinic reports that any pain felt during the squeezing exercise should gradually decline until you no longer notice any pain. Other range of motion exercises include gently moving your wrist up, down and to the side in a slow back and forth motion.