Did you know that your wrist contains a large number of bones as well as the soft tissue and tendons that make the hand work fully? In fact, there are, “Eight small bones and the two forearm bones,” (AAHS.org, 2015) that form the wrist. Because of this, the wrist can be fractured, and in many different ways. Any wrist fracture will impede movement of the hand simply because it is the wrist that allows the hand to move and swivel freely.
Wrist fractures can be sustained during a fall, an accident of some kind, or during sports. Though there are many bones in the wrist, the most commonly fractured of them are the radius, which is one of the two arm bones leading into the wrist area, and the scaphoid (a small bone that links two rows of smaller bones in the hand).
Regardless of the severity of the break, it will often cause pain and swelling and prevent the individual from using the wrist and hand as normal. That means that it is imperative to seek medical care from a hand professional as soon as any injury occurs. Broken bones may be shattered, blood flow could be impaired, nerves or tendons could be damaged, and there could even be the need for a surgical repair.
Diagnosing and Treating a Wrist Fracture
Usually, your doctor has to order an X-ray to see which bones have been broken and to do a full evaluation of the situation. In the least serious cases, when the bone or bones are not displaced (out of their usual location) and the fracture is stable, you will probably need a splint or cast to keep the bone in alignment and allow it to set and grow.
If the situation is not as simple, there can be the need for surgery in order to use pins or screws to stabilize the bones or reconstruct them. There are also instances of external fixation devices used to force the bones into their proper alignment for full healing.
Regardless of the approach used to set the bones, there is always the need to maintain function and flexibility of the digits and hand. This is usually done with the help of a therapist working in cooperation with the physician. Even when splints, casts, or external frames are removed, the need for therapy continues in order to rebuild strength and ensure that full function remains.
It usually requires a period of several months for a wrist fracture to heal, and for the discomfort, stiffness, or pain to completely fade. There are so many ways that a wrist fracture can occur, and so many secondary injuries possible, that there is no universal answer to, “How is a wrist fracture treated?” However the first step is to head to the hand doctor or surgeon and get a complete diagnosis. Following the treatment and therapy plan is the only way to retain functional use of the wrist and hand, and the outcomes are usually very positive and successful.
AAHS.org. Wrist Fracture. 2015. http://handcare.assh.org/SearchResults/tabid/145/SearchModuleID/1720/sites/1/Default.aspx?SearchTerm=wrist+fracture