A fractured or broken wrist commonly occurs as the result of direct impact to the wrist. Trying to break a fall with an outstretched arm, a motor vehicle accident, or any other form of direct contact to the wrist can result in a fracture. While this injury can potentially happen to anybody, it is a very common injury to athletes and people with Osteoporosis.
A wrist fracture most commonly occurs at the end of the distal radius bone, which is connected to the wrist joint. This injury is known as a Distal Radius Fracture. If a person fractures both of the forearm bones that meet at the wrist (Distal Radius and the Distal Ulna) the injury is referred to as a Distal Radius and Ulna Fracture.
Depending on the angle of the Distal Radius as it is broken, the fractures is classified as a Colles Fracture or Smith Fracture. A Colles Fracture can result from direct impact to the palm of the hand. This type of fracture is more common than the Smith Fracture. A Smith Fracture is usually the result of impact to the back of the wrist.
Symptoms of a Fractured Wrist
Symptoms of a broken wrist can include swelling, bruising and tenderness. Severe pain is often experienced and can worsen with movement. It’s not uncommon for the wrist to hang in a bent position after it’s been fractured. A person who thinks they may have broken their wrist needs to see an orthopedic doctor immediately.
Diagnosis Of A Wrist Fracture
The diagnosis of a fractured wrist includes a physical exam and X-rays. Addtional imaging test like a MRI or CT scan may also be ordered by a physician to properly assess the extent of the injury.
Treating a Fractured Wrist
A fractured wrist needs immediate medical attention. Treatment depends on the severity of the injury.
Bones need to be in the correct position to heal properly. An orthopedic surgeon may need to reset the bone (put the bone back into the correct position). The area will then be immobilized using a cast to allow it to heal properly. If a fractured wrist can’t be treated using a cast or it’s considered to be unstable, an open surgery will be required to correctly align the bone(s)..
Your orthopedic doctor should explain what to expect during the recovery process, what specific treatment options will benefit you, and how long you should wait to return to daily activities. Most people who have fractured their wrist will need physical therapy after their cast or splint has been removed.