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Fractures of the fifth metacarpal can be treated non-operatively by plaster immobilisation or functional taping. In order to evaluate the better treatment policy, the two methods were compared in a prospective randomised series. We treated 25 patients with an ulnar gutter plaster-cast splintage and 25 with functional tape. Functional recovery was evaluated after one week and four weeks, three months and six months. Mobility, power-grip, pulling- and torque strengths were measured. The change in fracture angulation was calculated at the one and four-week follow-up. Residual symptoms were evaluated after six months. The functional tape group showed significant earlier functional recovery. After six months, there were no significant differences between the groups with regard to functional and anatomical results or the number of patients with residual symptoms. In both groups, we noted a change in fracture angulation only in those fractures that had been reduced. We conclude that fractures of the 5th metacarpal are better treated by functional taping than by cast immobilisation.
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Accepted: May 27, 1997
© 1998 Published by Elsevier Inc.