Broken Wrist Heres What You Need To Know
A broken wrist can happen to anyone at any age, although aging individuals with thinning bones are most often at risk. Dr John Froelich an orthopedic surgeon that specializes in hand and wrist injuries at Panorama Orthopedics, sees patients for fractures caused by everything from mountain biking and snowboarding to slipping on ice or falling from a ladder. Breaks often occur when people extend a hand backwards or forwards to catch a fall. Theres even an acronym for that FOOSH or falling on an outstretched hand.
An X-ray can usually confirm whether or not your wrist is broken or simply sprained. The most common symptoms of a fracture include severe ongoing pain, swelling near the wrist, tenderness, stiffness, numbness and an inability to move your wrist or thumb. In some cases, the fracture results in an obvious deformity such as a bent wrist. Although there are many different types of fractures, Dr. Froelich says treatment depends upon whether or not the fracture is non-displaced or displaced.
Will My Wrist Function Normally After Treatment
This depends on many factors. Severity of the fracture is probably the most important one. The worse the fracture is, the more problems youll have with the wrist in the future.
100% normal function is usually not possible , but pain-free function that doesnt limit what you want to do is attainable in most situations.
Full recovery may take several months, and some patients may have some leftover stiffness or aching, especially with weather changes. Most patients with stiffness and limited motion can make dramatic improvements with the help of physical or occupational hand and wrist therapy.
Exercise And Fracture Healing
Exercise is unlikely to pop into your mind as an important way to accelerate fracture healing yet it is. In general, bone tissue responds to patterns of loading by increasing matrix synthesis, altering composition, organization, and mechanical properties. Evidence indicates that the same holds true for bone under repair. Further, fracture healing requires good circulation and an adequate flow of nutrient-replenishing blood to the fracture site both of which are enhanced by exercise. To avoid stress on the broken bone, joint loading, range of motion, and specific tendon-gliding exercises are employed to accelerate healing and assure return of function post fracture. For example, in the case of a broken forearm, exercises would involve movements of the fingers and hand, as well as the elbow and shoulder joints.
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How Long Can I Expect To Be Off Work After Wrist Surgery
Your return to work depends on your profession and the availability of light duty. Generally, light office work, typing, writing, and using a computer are acceptable even 2 to 3 weeks after surgery. No heavy lifting or forceful gripping with the operative hand is permitted until at least 6 weeks after surgery.
An Alkaline For Life Eating Program Stimulates Bone Repair
The Alkaline for Life® eating program provides a diet rich in minerals, vitamins, and phytonutrients obtained from vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. This life-supporting eating pattern has been shown to create a health-promoting internal biochemical environment which, among other things, conserves bone building minerals and proteins. Such a base-forming eating program also has been shown to increase growth hormones and growth factors such as IGF insulin-like growth factor. These growth hormones are among the most important biochemical forces encouraging fracture repair and new bone formation.
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Watch An Animated Surgical Video Of Treating A Distal Radius
For most patients, blood loss is minimal and unless there are medical indicationsprophylaxis for deep vein thrombosis is not necessary. Other risks of surgery are small and include infection, bone healing, tendon rupture, and stiffness.
Patients are placed into a splint after surgery and typically return in two weeks for suture removal. Patients who receive regional anesthesia report less pain after surgery, but all patients should follow instructions regarding pain medications to improve their postoperative experience. Once patients recover from the surgical pain of application of the hardware, most report considerable improvement in their overall wrist discomfort.
What It Should Feel Like And How To Speed Healing
Michael Menna, DO, is a board-certified, active attending emergency medicine physician at White Plains Hospital in White Plains, New York.
As your broken bone heals, it should go through different phases, each involving its own set of characteristics. The amount and type of pain and other symptoms will change, as will your range of motion and strength. Knowing these phases and what you should feel as you go through them can help you spot any abnormalities or complications early, so your doctor can deal with them right away.
Broken bones typically take at least six weeks to heal, and some may take much longer. Meanwhile, you don’t just have to idly wait for the healing process to occur; you can take certain steps to help your body repair the break and get back to full functionality.
Verywell / Brianna Gilmartin
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Pain And Swelling Post
After your wrist surgery, you are likely to feel some pain, aching, and swelling in the wrist. Your doctor will prescribe medications and other treatments to help with these symptoms. If you notice redness, heat, or discharge at the site of the surgery, speak with your surgeon immediately. While it is normal to feel pain and aching after wrist surgery, redness, heat, and discharge are signs of infection.
I Broke My Wrist Now What
A fall onto an outstretched hand can result in several different injuries to that arm.; Among the most common injuries is a broken wrist.; There are several different fractures that can occur throughout the wrist, the most common is a break at the end of the radius bone.; This is often referred to as a distal radius fracture.; This is the most commonly broken bone in the body, with over 600,000 breaks in the United States per year.; The injury is commonly seen both in kids and adults.A broken wrist will cause pain, swelling, bruising, and difficulty moving the wrist.; More severe fractures can result in a deformity of the arm, or tingling in the fingers.; These injuries are typically seen in an emergency department or in an orthopaedists office, and a splint will be applied.
If the fracture is displaced, meaning the bone it not well lined up, a reduction may be needed to set the bone.; Typically, a local anesthetic is injected near the fracture, and the hand and wrist are manipulated to improve the alignment of the wrist.; A splint or cast is placed, and if x-rays show the bone is in an acceptable position, the fracture is allowed to heal.
In general, a broken wrist takes about 6 weeks to heal.; Once x-rays show that the break has mended itself, you can start using the wrist again.; Sometimes therapy is helpful to improve strength and flexibility of the wrist.
To read more about wrist fractures,;
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How Broken Wrists Heal On Their Own
If your wrist has an uncomplicated break, such as at the end of the radius, it may heal on its own. You just need time and to immobilize your wrist to allow it to heal.;
In these cases, the ER doctor typically resets your broken bone, which can be quite painful. You will likely receive painkillers before they reset the bone.
Some of the treatments we use for a broken wrist include:
- Wearing a plaster cast or splint for about 6 to 8 weeks
- Wearing a splint to hold your wrist in place
- Having regular X-rays to make sure its healing properly
Once your bone sufficiently heals, you may need additional physical therapy to regain your range of motion and restore the former strength in your wrist. Physical therapy generally lasts about six weeks after the bone heals. Although it can initially be uncomfortable, physical therapy provides lasting pain relief.
Diagnosing A Fractured Wrist
Your hand surgeon will perform a physical exam and get X-rays to see if a broken bone is present.
Scans;like a CT scan or MRI scan might sometimes be necessary to get details on the fracture and other lesions. When the wrist;fractures, even ligaments and tendons, as well as muscles and nerves, will get hurt. Doctors will also treat these injuries.
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Support For A Wrist Fracture
When you first break your wrist, one of the most important things for your doctor to do is immobilise the joint. Immobilisation helps to prevent the broken bones from moving out of place, which could otherwise prevent correct healing, or even cause more serious injuries.
The apparatus used to immobilise your wrist is often referred to as a support, as it supports the joint and helps to keep it in place. Some of these supports can include a plaster or fibre glass cast, and a splint. A cast is a sturdier support for a broken bone but can take longer to apply and must be completely replaced if they become loose or damaged as swelling reduces. A splint is also known as a half cast, are much quicker to apply, and can be loosened or tightened depending on the patients needs.
It is important to ensure that you take care of your support, and not allow it to become wet or damaged while you are healing. It is also important to be aware of excessive pain in your broken wrist while in a cast or splint. You should also be aware of further swelling, discolouration or numbness in your fingers while wearing a support, as this could be a sign of further infection, nerve damage or loss of circulation. You should notify your doctor immediately if you notice any of those symptoms, as urgent treatment may be required.
Wrist Surgery Recovery After A Fracture
Because there are many ways that the bones in the wrist can fracture, your recovery time varies with the injury you suffered. In general, you can expect a healing period of at least six weeks after a bone fracture.;
The most common type of bone fracture is a distal radius fracture, which often occurs when you try to catch yourself after a fall.1
When the fracture is unstable, a doctor may recommend surgery. After surgery, you can expect to wear a fixed splint, cast, or removable splint.3
Most people need physical therapy following wrist surgery or a serious fracture. The length of physical therapy depends on numerous factors. Because full recovery can take 4 to 6 months, you may need physical therapy for several months.4
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Rehabilitation Of The Wrist
After your surgery wound heals, your surgeon will recommend you begin rehabilitation. This can be through physical or occupational therapy. A physical or occupational therapist will work with you to strengthen your wrist. You will also work on improving flexibility and mobility. This is done through a series of exercises and stretches performed with the therapist and at home on your own. You should expect to perform rehabilitation for several weeks following wrist surgery for better results.
What Is Central Sensitization
Central sensitization is a change in how your central nervous system perceives a particular type of stimulus. In the case of a fracture, your nervous system continues to perceive movement and use of the formerly broken bone as painful, even when there’s no tissue damage remaining.
Different doctors have different benchmarks they use to determine when pain is chronic, but many consider it about six months past when it should’ve ended. If you have ongoing pain for weeks or months after your fracture has healed and your soft tissues have been rehabilitated, let your doctor know. It may be that there’s a lingering problem with the injury , or it may be that something else is causing your pain
No matter the cause of your pain, you don’t just have to suffer. Your doctor should be able to help you find effective ways to treat the underlying problem and manage your pain.
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Symptoms: What Does A Wrist Fracture Feel Like
- Wrist fractures usually result in immediate pain, swelling, and bruising.
- The wrist may or may not look crooked or bent backwards depending on the severity of the injury.
- Weakness or inability to bear weight on the wrist or a sensation of the wrist giving way or buckling can result from a fracture.
- A common misperception is that if you can move the wrist, it must not be broken. Often with less severe fractures the wrist can still be moved just with some discomfort.
- Occasionally if the swelling or deformity is severe enough, there can be numbness or tingling in the fingers.
Surgical Treatments For Your Wrist Fracture
While some wrist fractures can be treated without surgery, if your doctor has recommended forearm fracture surgery, its important to begin treatment as soon as possible. Surgeons generally agree that there is a two week window after an injury where wrist fracture surgery can be performed without being complicated by the early stages of bone healing. During this time period, you and your doctor will need to decided whether to go ahead with your wrist fracture surgery or not.
If you decide to proceed, your doctor will advise you about which type of wrist fracture surgery would be best for your particular health needs. Fracture surgery, medically referred to as fixation because it fixes your bones into their correct places for proper healing, comes in a few types.
A small incision is made, a stabilizing plate and pins or screws are fixed to the bone, and the incision is closed. Assuming there are no complications, this hardware does not need to be removed, however, you and your doctor can opt for a second surgery to take it back out after the bone has completely healed.
This type of surgery involves the placement of an external frame to hold percutaneously set pins in place to help with healing and stability.
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Will I Need Surgery
In most cases, these conservative healing methods are enough. But if you have a particularly severe or complex fracture, surgery may be required because a cast wont be enough to help the bone heal correctly.
Surgery may involve the insertion of pins, screws, plates, or other devices to hold your bones in place to heal. We may recommend surgery in the following cases:
- A piece of bone has broken through your skin
- You have a bone broken in multiple places
- Your break extends into the wrist joint
- The broken pieces of bone have moved out of place
- Pieces of bone have injured a blood vessel or nerve
- You tore ligaments along with the break
If you suspect youve injured a wrist and have pain, tenderness, swelling, bruising, or apparent deformity, make an appointment with our experts at Maryland Orthopedic Specialists.
We can diagnose a fracture and get you the treatment necessary to heal and restore function. either our Bethesda or Germantown, Maryland, office or use our online system to schedule a consultation.
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When Youll Definitely Need Surgery
If your broken wrist is more complicated than just breaking the end of the radius, youll likely need surgery to repair it. If the radius was broken higher up on the bone or if you broke both the radius and ulna, it may not heal on its own.
The typical surgery to repair a badly broken wrist is an outpatient procedure performed under general anesthesia. We may use titanium plates or pins to fix the bones in the proper place.
The rest of the healing procedure is similar to that of less complicated wrist breaks. Youll wear a cast or splint for 6 to 8 weeks and well do regular X-rays to see how well your bones are healing. Once the cast or splint comes off, physical therapy is often recommended so you can regain normal use of your wrist.
If you broke your wrist, contact us to learn about your road to recovery. Call one of our offices in Hartford, Glastonbury, Tolland, and Bloomfield, Connecticut, or request an appointment online today.
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How Long Does It Take To Heal From Wrist Surgery
Your doctor or physical therapist can give you recommendations for keeping your joints and muscles as healthy as possible during your recovery. Recovery from wrist fracture surgery can take anywhere from six weeks to four months, depending on the severity of the injury, and the type of procedure performed.
What Is Involved With Broken Wrist Treatment
In addition to a splint or cast, your doctor may suggest the following to reduce pain and swelling:
- Elevating your wrist Put your wrist on a pillow above your heart level for a few days.
- Applying ice Apply ice for 15 to 20 minutes every few hours for two to three days may help fractured wrists, but take care so you dont get it on your splint or cast.
- Taking medication In some cases, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen can also help.
- Exercises Your doctor may recommend strengthening and stretching exercises for your fingers, elbow, and shoulder.
In some cases, surgery might be needed for wrist fractures. Your orthopedic physician may recommend this option if the fracture pattern of your wrist makes it difficult to properly set and realign your bones.
If this is the case, surgery can help stabilize the fractured pieces.
Using pins, screws, plates, rods, or other methods can help set the fractured pieces. If a bone is severely crushed enough to leave a gap in the bone after its been realigned, a bone graft may be added to help the area heal properly.
Depending on the severity of your break, it can take a broken wrist anywhere from eight weeks to six months or so to fully heal. Dont rush back into your normal activities too soon, or you could delay your recovery.
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