Scaphoid Fracture Repair Does Not Significantly Diminish Short-Term Participation in the National Football League

Derrick M. Knapik, Leigh Anne Tu, Joseph Sheehan, Michael J. Salata, James E. Voos, Kevin J. Malone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Fixation of scaphoid fractures is recommended in elite athletes to hasten healing and return-to-sport times. Complications such as nonunion negatively affect athletic performance. Questions/Purposes: The purpose of this study was to examine the prevalence and impact of scaphoid repair on National Football League (NFL) participation during athletes’ first season in the NFL, while identifying significant predictors for development of carpal arthritis and scaphoid nonunion. Methods: A total of 1311 football athletes invited to the NFL Scouting Combine from 2012 to 2015 were evaluated for history of scaphoid fracture repair. Athlete demographics, surgical history, and imaging and physical examination findings were recorded. Future NFL participation based on draft status, games played, and games started during athletes’ first season were gathered using publicly available databases. Results: Nineteen (1.4%) athletes underwent 24 operations for scaphoid repair. Limitations in wrist range of motion or strength were present in 47.4% of athletes with a history of repair. Arthritic changes were present in 32% of wrists, while radiographic nonunion was present in two athletes following scaphoid fracture. Defensive backs were observed to have a higher incidence for arthritic changes following repair compared to other positions. No significant difference in prospective NFL participation was found in athletes with a history of scaphoid repair than in those without. Conclusions: Athletes with a history of scaphoid repair are not at significant risk for diminished participation during their first season in the NFL.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-142
Number of pages6
JournalHSS Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 15 2019


  • athlete
  • football
  • fracture
  • nonunion
  • scaphoid
  • wrist


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