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Patrick Willis injury: What does a "slightly" fractured hand mean for the 49ers?

Patrick Willis has reportedly suffered a fracture to his right hand. We look at the degree of the injury and what it means for Willis and the 49ers.


According to reports out of Wednesday's practice session, Patrick Willis injured his hand during a blitz pick up drill with fullback Bruce Miller. Willis departed the field to get his his hand wrapped in ice, and he watched the remainder of the session from the sideline. Yesterday, CSN Bay Area reported Willis would undergo an x-ray to determine the extent of the injury to his right hand.

There were mixed reports that Patrick Willis had a "slight" fracture in his hand or wrist. Then, Chris Mortensen tweeted this out:

First of all, there is no such thing as a "slight" fracture. It's either fractured or it isn't. If Willis has a fracture, it is a break. Fractures can vary. A fracture can have bone pieces aligned and stable. Other times, fractures are unstable and the bone fragments tend to displace or shift.

What I suspect by the term "slight" is the fracture was not displaced to begin with or a doctor reset the bone. If the fracture is not displaced or comminuted (bone is shattered), a splint or a cast can be used to treat the fracture. Surgery is not required.

Willis has had three injuries to his right hand before. He played with a broken hand in college and broke it again in the NFL in 2007 and 2010. This is the fourth fracture to his hand and wrist. All bones are susceptible to fracture when it comes to high impact activities, but it increases as we age. What inspires confidence is the human body has an amazing ability to heal bones quickly. In fact, broken bones can heal within a few months that even an x-ray does not show the original fracture line. If the fracture is being reported as "slight," we are probably looking at four to six weeks for it to be good as new.

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