Fracture of the 5th metacarpal bone – Advice regarding healing and recovery

Patient Experience

  • Reference Number: HEY-1281/2022
  • Departments: Orthopaedics
  • Last Updated: 1 May 2022


This leaflet has been produced to give you general information about your injury. We understand you may not have seen a clinician face to face in fracture clinic however, most of your questions should be answered by this leaflet.  If after reading it, you have any concerns or require further explanation, please do not hesitate to contact the fracture clinic team. Contact details are available at the end of this leaflet.

What is a fracture of the 5th metacarpal bone?

You have a minor fracture (break) at the knuckle between your hand and your little finger. The fracture is not displaced, meaning it is in a good position and should heal well if the advice below is followed. Your knuckle may look a little different after your injury; this is expected. You may also notice some shortening of the little finger because of this injury.

How should it be treated?

This injury can be treated with neighbour strapping for 3 weeks, the strapping will provide the bone the stability it needs to heal and will help reduce any pain you may experience. You may have also been given a wrist splint this can also be used for the same length of time.

To manage your pain, we advise that you regularly take simple pain relief, which can be bought over the counter. If you have allergies or conditions, which prevent the use of pain-relieving or anti-inflammatory medication, please seek advice from your doctor or a pharmacist.

Extra strapping can be purchased from your local chemist and should be replaced when it becomes wet or worn. Please ensure it is applied above and below the finger joints, so that it does not restrict movement as this will cause stiffness.

What should I do in the first few days?

It is important to note that smoking will delay the healing process and so should be avoided. Talk to your GP or go to for more information. 

Complete rest is not advisable. Whilst in the strapping, it is important that you try to use your wrist and hand normally when doing everyday tasks like washing, dressing and eating.

Exercising the hand early is very important to prevent stiffness at the finger joints. The exercise below should be completed 4 times daily.

Support your elbow on a table with your wrist straight and fingers pointing towards the ceiling.

  • Bend all your fingers into your palm as tightly as you can
  • Hold the stretch 10 seconds
  • Now stretch all your fingers as wide as you can. Hold the stretch for 10 seconds

If you have swelling in your hand, you can reduce this by sitting on a chair and placing your elbow on cushions so that it is level or slightly higher than your shoulder. In this position, point your hand towards the ceiling, open and close your fingers slowly for 10 minutes (see the exercise above).

When can I drive again?

You will not be insured to drive whilst your fingers have strapping in place or while wearing a splint. It is always good to check with your insurance company however we advise it should be safe to return to driving when:

  • You are no longer using the strapping or splint
  • You can comfortably grip the steering wheel, move the gear stick, pull up the hand brake and activate the indicators
  • You can perform an emergency stop

After the strapping has been removed when should I start increasing my activity?

As your movement improves and pain reduces, little by little you can increase the amount of activity you use this hand for. If you participate in an active hobby then it is advisable that you do not return to this until you have full strength and full range of movement.

Throwing, catching, gripping or punching activities should be avoided for 6 weeks until the fracture is fully healed. After 6 weeks, build up these types of exercises gradually in order to help regain strength and flexibility, before returning to full training sessions and competition. If you require further guidance on this, you may wish to speak to a physiotherapist. Details of how to refer can be found in the section below.

Do I require a follow up?

Do I need to be referred to Physiotherapy?

If the fracture clinic team feel you need to be seen by the Physiotherapy team, you will be directly referred to physiotherapy from fracture clinic and if this is the case, you will have been informed of this in your telephone call following your Virtual Fracture Clinic appointment. You will receive a letter or phone call to book this appointment within 2 weeks of the referral being made.

If you have not received one within this time, please contact the physiotherapy department on 01482 674880 between the hours 8.00am – 4.00pm Monday to Friday. If there is no answer please leave a message and your call will be returned with the same working day.

However, most of the time a referral to Physiotherapy is not needed, but if you have any concerns, are unable to follow the advice in this leaflet, or if you still have reduced movement, strength or function,  East Riding GP patients can contact the East Riding MSK Physiotherapy service on 01377 208300. Alternatively you can complete a self referral form on

Hull GP patients should call the fracture clinic number in the information below.

Do I need a Fracture Clinic follow up appointment?

A follow up appointment for fracture clinic is not required and you have been placed on a Patient Initiated Follow Up (PIFU) pathway. This means you will not have another appointment to be seen in fracture clinic.

If, however you have any problems or further queries relating to this injury within the next six weeks, you can contact us on 01482 674378 during clinic hours 9.00am – 4.30pm Monday to Friday. Please do not choose an option and when prompted leave a message if there is no answer and we will aim to get back to you within the same working day. If you have not needed to contact us in the six weeks after your injury, you will be discharged and should seek advice from your GP.

This leaflet was produced by the Orthopaedic Department, Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and will be reviewed in May 2025

General Advice and Consent

Most of your questions should have been answered by this leaflet, but remember that this is only a starting point for discussion with the healthcare team.

Consent to treatment

Before any doctor, nurse or therapist examines or treats you, they must seek your consent or permission. In order to make a decision, you need to have information from health professionals about the treatment or investigation which is being offered to you. You should always ask them more questions if you do not understand or if you want more information.

The information you receive should be about your condition, the alternatives available to you, and whether it carries risks as well as the benefits. What is important is that your consent is genuine or valid. That means:

  • you must be able to give your consent
  • you must be given enough information to enable you to make a decision
  • you must be acting under your own free will and not under the strong influence of another person

Information about you

We collect and use your information to provide you with care and treatment. As part of your care, information about you will be shared between members of a healthcare team, some of whom you may not meet. Your information may also be used to help train staff, to check the quality of our care, to manage and plan the health service, and to help with research. Wherever possible we use anonymous data.

We may pass on relevant information to other health organisations that provide you with care. All information is treated as strictly confidential and is not given to anyone who does not need it. If you have any concerns please ask your doctor, or the person caring for you.

Under the General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018 we are responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of any information we hold about you. For further information visit the following page: Confidential Information about You.

If you or your carer needs information about your health and wellbeing and about your care and treatment in a different format, such as large print, braille or audio, due to disability, impairment or sensory loss, please advise a member of staff and this can be arranged.

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