Seattle Mariner, Mike Zunino, injured his left hand during the game against the Minnesota Twins at the end of July. Zunino suffers from a broken hamate bone.
USA Today also reported that following Zunino’s surgery, his recovery time would be about six weeks. Zunino states, “It’s something that I’m going to have to deal with and come back through a speedy recovery.” “Yeah, it’s frustrating, but it’s just another thing you deal with as a player.”
Overview of Hamate Bone
The hamate bone is one of the many carpal bones in the wrist, and it has an outward area shaped like a small hook. The hamate bone is on the pinkie finger side of the wrist, and it is one of many common broken bones that a baseball player can have. This bone is broken easily because it is near the surface of the palm and can fracture with moderate contact with an object, like a bat. For a baseball player, the hamate bone is very important because it helps control movement in both hitting and pitching. Whether you hit or pitch in baseball, this hamate bone can break or fracture easily, whether it comes in contact with a bat or the tendons become sheared off of the top of the bone.
Hamate Bone Fracture Symptoms
The most common symptom of the hamate bone fracture is pain, which can make it hard for a baseball player to grip a baseball or bat. The pain might be made worse when swinging the bat or throwing the baseball, to the point where the player cannot continue through the motion. There is also inflammation or swelling around the hamate bone, which might be seen on the wrist or palm area. Sometimes the swelling can be seen within minutes if the bone was hit hard enough. If the pain continues for a few days, a computerized tomography scan is taken, which can show the image of the broken hamate bone. Often times, the hamate bone fracture is not uncovered until an imaging scan is taken, since it cannot usually be seen on the outside.
Treatment for a baseball player suffering from a hamate bone fracture depends upon when the injury occurred, whether it was days ago or months ago. If the hamate bone fracture occurred days ago, then the likely option is immobilization of the wrist. This means that the player will be in a cast, usually for about four weeks, so that the bone has a chance to heal by itself. Pain medications or anti-inflammatory medication might be given to the baseball player, which can help ease the pain and swelling around the hamate bone. If the hamate bone was fractured months ago and went unnoticed, then surgery is usually required. When surgery is required, the doctor will go in and completely remove the hamate bone from the wrist, since it was not able to heal properly. A baseball player that has surgery to remove the hamate bone is looking at about a three-week recovery time, with the wrist being immobilized in a cast throughout that period.
Overall Impact on a Baseball Player
The good news about the hamate bone fracture is that the impact on a baseball player is minimal, meaning it is not likely to impact the player on a long-term level. Short-term, however, a baseball player might have to wait about six weeks before returning to the field or training on a normal basis. Sometimes, physical therapy might be needed to build up the muscles and strength needed to play baseball regularly again, although it is not common. Although recovery time is short, a baseball player might feel less power hitting or pitching, and the loss of power or speed might continue up to a year after the surgery. Usually, however, within six weeks a baseball player can return to normal activities and not see a significant drop in speed, strength or power.
If you believe you may be suffering from a hamate bone fracture, we recommend that you see a physician right away for treatment.