An orthopedic surgeon’s first-hand hand injury saga

I am an orthopedic surgeon and I mountain and road bike. My friends and I were mountain biking in Big Sky, Montana. When the other riders called it a day, I wanted one more, gnarly ride on a trail called Lobo, a double-black diamond run. I went alone and ended up washed out with an injured right hand. It was shred time until it wasn’t!

I recognized the signs of a bone fracture in my hand:

  • Swelling
  • Tenderness
  • Deformity
  • Inability to move the finger
  • Shortened finger
  • Finger crosses over another when making a partial fist
  • Depressed knuckle or “boxer’s fracture”

Instead of the ER, I went to Direct Orthopedic Care for diagnosis, a 4th metacarpal bone fracture in my right hand. X-rays identified the location and extent of the fracture. The hand has 5 metacarpal bones, one for each finger. The 4th is the ring finger. When the metacarpals meet up with finger bones, they form knuckles, joints that allow fingers to move. Knuckles are commonly broken while punching something. I punched a rock with my fist to break the fall and broke my hand instead of something else.

Surgical intervention was necessary to stabilize and align the bones. Bone healing begins at six weeks and my recovery took a few months before I was in the OR again, not as a patient, but an orthopedic surgeon repairing injured knees, hips and shoulders.

DOC got this doc back, not only in the OR, but back on the bike and training to ride the Breck Epic in August, a 6-day mountain bike race, 240 miles with 40,000 feet of vertical gain in the backcountry of Breckenridge, Colorado.