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In Street Clothes

Covering sports injuries from the perspective of a certified athletic trainer and backed by analytics.

Understanding Steph Curry’s Broken Hand

The Golden State Warriors entered the season with varied expectations from seasons past as player movement and injuries have drastically altered their roster. Unfortunately the team took another hit Wednesday when two-time MVP Stephen Curry suffered a broken hand in a loss to the Suns. The injury occurred when Suns center Aron Baynes fell on Curry after attempting to take a charge.

The Warriors described the injury as a broken hand with ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne reporting it as a second metacarpal fracture. This type of injury has been detailed numerous times on InStreetClothes.com following similar injuries for players like Rajon Rondo, Kawhi Leonard, and Russell Westbrook, but let’s take another detailed look at the problem.

Five metacarpal bones form the bulk of the hand and bridge the tiny carpal bones of the wrist and the long bones of the fingers.  The distal ends of the metacarpals form the knuckles of the hand. Based on this positioning, the metacarpals are particularly susceptible to breaking especially following a direct blow or an axial load. As a result, a metacarpal fracture is often referred to as a Boxer’s fracture.

The necessary recovery time normally depends on multiple factors, including the specific metacarpal fractured. Breaks to the second and third metacarpals, located below the pointer and middle fingers, are easier to manage as they are anchored to the bones of the wrist and as a result are largely immobile. The fourth and the fifth metacarpals, located beneath the ring and pinkie fingers respectively, are more mobile in order to allow motion at the wrist and pinkie. The mobility here often necessitates additional healing time. 

The nature of the break can effect recovery time as it influences eventual treatment options. If the broken pieces of the bone remain aligned, it is considered a non-displaced fracture. If the position of the bone shifts after the break, it is considered displaced and surgery is often needed to insure a proper union of the bone fragments.

The InStreetClothes.com/SMART database has seven recent examples of second metacarpal fractures, including Westbrook, Danny Green, and Nikola Vucevic. Of these seven players, four required surgery. The average missed time for these injuries is 16 games. The recovery time for non-surgical cases is cut in half as these individuals missed an average of just eight games. 

Curry is slated to undergo a CT scan at some point Thursday to determine the extent of the break. The team will then determine whether or not he will require a trip to the operating room. For now, Warriors fans can brace themselves for at least a two week absence with  more prolonged timeline if surgery is required.