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How To Tell If My Wrist Is Broken

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Hand Fracture Treatments: How To Treat A Broken Hand

How can you tell if your wrist is sprained or broken?

There are many broken hand treatment options to address broken fingers, broken metacarpals, and other hand injuries. Fortunately, many hand fractures will not require surgical intervention, although splints, braces, straps, and the classic buddy system may be used to immobilize the affected bones. In some instances, patients may need to wear larger casts to immobilize the entire hand or wrist. These splints and casts hold the bones in place, allowing the area to heal, while also minimizing the risk of reinjury during the recovery process. In the event of misalignment, the overseeing medical professional may need to manually reposition the finger before utilizing a splint or cast. These noninvasive treatments are viable for most situations, but in the case of more severe injuries, your doctor may recommend surgical intervention for optimal results and recovery.

Wrist Sprain Vs Broken Wrist

We use our hands for so much throughout the day that wrist pain can be very debilitating. The most common cause of wrist injuries is falling onto an outstretched hand. This may cause the wrist ligaments or bones to become damaged. Some wrist injuries are classified as wrist sprains while others are considered a broken wrist. Understanding the difference will help you get the correct treatment from your Jacksonville orthopedic specialist. Contact our hand and wrist specialists to take advantage of their specialized knowledge and training in this area.

Part 1 Of 2:diagnosing A Wrist Sprain

  • 1Move your wrist and assess it. Wrist sprains have a wide range of severity depending on the degree of stretch or tearing to the ligament. A mild wrist sprain , infers some ligament stretching, but no significant tearing; a moderate sprain infers significant tearing and may be associated with some loss of function; a severe sprain infers a greater degree of tearing or complete rupture of ligaments.XResearch source As such, movement in your wrist will be relatively normal with Grade 1 and 2 sprains. A Grade 3 sprain often leads to instability with movement because the ligaments attaching the wrist bones are completely torn.
  • In general, only some Grade 2 and all Grade 3 wrist sprains need medical attention. All Grade 1 and most Grade 2 sprains can be managed at home.
  • A Grade 3 wrist sprain can involve an avulsion fracture the ligament tears away from the bone and takes a small chip of bone with it.XResearch source
  • The most common ligament sprained in the wrist is the scapho-lunate ligament, which connects the scaphoid bone to the lunate bone.XResearch source
  • Grade 3 sprains that involve an avulsion fracture are very painful immediately, and involve both sharp and throbbing type pain.
  • Sprains generate the most pain with movement and are usually much less symptomatic with lack of movement .
  • In general, if your wrist is very painful and difficult to move, see your doctor right away and get it assessed.
  • Looking For A Hand Surgeon For Your Wrist Injury

    If you have a wrist injury, theres no need to remain in pain any longer a hand surgeon really makes all the difference. With the right expertise, diagnosis, and treatment you can get back to doing the things you enjoy quicker.

    Dont spend another minute wondering if a hand surgeon is right for you, make an appointment today by calling 393-4263 or by scheduling online. At your appointment, I, Dr. Vella, will answer any questions you have and help guide you through the treatment of your wrist injury.

    Together, well create a tailored approach for your specific needs that gets your wrist healed and most of all, pain-free.

    What If Its Just A Sprain

    Is My Wrist Broken or Sprained

    Oftentimes a fractured wrist can be misidentified as a mild or severe wrist sprain. Before rushing to the emergency room, be sure to understand the difference and educate yourself on what to do when you do suffer from a sprained wrist. Youll find that both a sprained wrist and a fractured wrist are very common and have similar symptoms, so its sometimes difficult to determine which is which.

    If, after you slip or fall and injure your wrist, everything is still straight and only slightly swollen, it might be a sprain. Another way you can tell if your wrist is sprained is to consider how much pain youre in and how quickly the pain subsides.

    There are a large number of bones in your hand so sometimes its difficult to tell if your mild or severe sprain could actually be a fracture. While an x-ray is expensive and time-consuming, its sometimes the only way to truly determine whether youre dealing with a sprain or a fracture. It also helps alleviate some stress on your end to have an answer to your pain.

    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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    You may want to write a list that includes:

    • A description of your symptoms and how, where and when the injury occurred
    • Information about your and your familys medical histories
    • All the medications and dietary supplements you take, including doses
    • Questions you want to ask the doctor

    For a broken wrist, questions to ask your doctor include:

    Diagnosing A Wrist Injury

    When you injure your wrist, your doctor will ask you to describe how the injury occurred and perform a physical examination. Common physical tests during the examination could include:

    • Inspecting for deformity, bruising, swelling, and lacerations
    • Palpating the critical structures to assess the location of the injury
    • Testing your joints to assess their stability

    Based on the exam, your doctor may then order an x-ray. An x-ray is needed to decipher between a sprain and a fracture in most situations. If the x-ray appears normal but your symptoms are severe and persistent, your doctor may order additional tests such as a CT scan or an MRI. Rarely would a bone scan would be needed.

    Its important to note that fractures of the scaphoid can masquerade as a sprain. This is because sometimes scaphoid fractures arent as painful as distal radius fractures . Your practitioner should check the scaphoid for tenderness and if theres any suspicion, then special x-rays, a CT scan, an MRI, or early follow up and recheck are necessary.

    The Difference Between A Broken Or Sprained Wrist

    A sprain involves the ligaments that connect the bones at the joint.  It can be difficult to tell the difference between a fracture and a sprain. You should not assume that the degree of pain determines the specific problem.

    Although it would seem that a sprain would hurt less than a fracture, this is not always the case. Sprains can often be extremely painful, where fractures may sometimes hurt less.  There are also different degrees of sprains from mild to severe.

    A broken or sprained wrist may have many of the same symptoms:

    • Swelling in your wrist or hand
    • Pain, especially when you move your wrist
    • Difficulty picking up objects
    • Bruising
    • Limited range of motion

    However, if youve fractured your wrist, there are a few symptoms that go beyond sprains. There may be a deformity in the wrist and bone pushing against the skin or sometimes puncturing it. When you fall and hurt your wrists, you might hear a snap or pop and your wrist will usually swell immediately and worsen, even when treated with ice.

    The best way to know for certain if your wrist is fractured or sprained is to see a hand surgery specialist. They can do a thorough assessment and diagnose what is causing your pain.

    “Many wrist fractures do not require surgery, and can be adequately treated in a cast or brace. “Brandon P. Donnelly, MD

    Recovery When You Dont Need Surgery

    How I broke my wrist!

    To treat pain, your doctor may recommend over-the-counter pain medicines. Using an ice pack and keeping your wrist raised above the level of your heart as much as possible should help reduce pain and swelling, too.

    After several days, your doctor may replace your splint with a cast. Keep the cast dry unless it is waterproof. Your doctor will take X-rays every few weeks to see how your fracture is healing. While you still have the cast on, you may start movement exercises for your fingers, elbow and shoulder. These are called range-of-motion exercises. Your doctor may remove your cast after about six weeks.

    Once you no longer have a cast or split, you may start range-of-motion exercises for your wrist. The goal is to prevent stiffness. When your wrist is less stiff and painful, you will add exercises to make your wrist stronger. may continue for about five weeks.

    You should be able to return to most activities in 1 to 2 months. You should be able to return to all activities, including work or sports, in 3 to 6 months. It may take up to two years for wrist stiffness to go away.

    A Few Facts You Didnt Know About Wrist Fracture Recovery

    A Few Facts You Didnt Know About Wrist Fracture Recovery

    Were talking about wrist fractures.Wrist Fracture RecoveryTalk to Your Surgeon About How to Manage Your Pain & Swelling

    • Try elevating your arm, applying ice and taking non-prescription pain medicine
    • A combination of ibuprofen and acetaminophen can help keep swelling down as well
    • If this is not enough, narcotics may be prescribed for use just after surgery

    Casting & Proper At Home Care

    • In the case of some wrist fractures, no surgery is necessary and casting is all that is required to reset the bone
    • Casts are also used after surgery to immobilize the arm while it heals
    • A cast will usually stay on for six weeks following surgery
    • Keep your cast dry and after it is removed, keep your incision site dry until your stitches have been removed

    Getting Back to a Healthy, Active Life

    • Many patients will experience some wrist stiffness, which will gradually improve for up to two years after surgery
    • Physical therapy may be helpful in regaining strength
    • During the casted portion of your wrist fracture recovery, utilize other means of exercise, such as lower body workouts
    • After three or four months have passed from your surgery date, check back in with your surgeon to find out if it is safe to resume more intense activities

    Things to Look Out For

    Orthopedists Ways On How To Tell If A Bone Is Fractured Or Bruised

    Your orthopedist can suggest these following information to differentiate fracture from a bruise on your legs, joints, hips, ankles, feet, and other areas. Ultimately, the primary way how an orthopedist can tell if your bone is fractured or bruised is through an X ray or MRI scan. A patient may expect a clinic or hospital with the appropriate equipment to determine the bones condition. Furthermore, a surgeon should be the medical health care practitioner to treat these fractures or bruises to avoid risks.

    • Bones protruding from the skin
    • Pain when pressure is applied
    • Bleeding muscles with a feeling of dislocation

    Surgical And Other Procedures

    You might need surgery to implant pins, plates, rods or screws to hold your bones in place while they heal. A bone graft might be used to help healing. These options might be necessary if you have:

    • An open fracture
    • A fracture in which the bone pieces move before they heal
    • Loose bone fragments that could enter a joint
    • Damage to the surrounding ligaments, nerves or blood vessels
    • Fractures that extend into a joint

    Even after reduction and immobilization with a cast or splint, your bones can shift. So your doctor likely will monitor your progress with X-rays. If your bones move, you might then need surgery.

    In some cases, the surgeon will immobilize your fracture by using an external fixation device. This consists of a metal frame with two or more pins that go through your skin and into the bone on both sides of the fracture.

    Broken Hand Rehab Broken Hand Physical Therapy Exercises

    Heather Morrison: Wy

    Physical therapy may be recommended for some hand injuries to help with the recovery process. Finger and hand physical therapy exercises are used to alleviate pain and discomfort related to stiffness and inflammation, and they can also help patients restore strength lost as a result of extended immobilization. The overseeing physical therapist will first gauge a patients range of motion and overall functionality before establishing a comprehensive regimen of hand physical therapy exercises. Once the patient has demonstrated proficiency, these broken hand physical therapy exercises should be performed at home daily for optimal results. Hand therapy putty and common everyday household items such as towels and cups may be used to help with strength training exercises. Stretching exercises will also be incorporated to increase the range of motion.

    Remember, we update our Sports Medicine Oregon blog monthly, so be sure to tune in often to stay up to date on the latest sports medicine news and views!

    The Inner Workings Of Your Wrist

    Your wrist is much more complex than it might seem with a quick glance down at your arm. In fact, there are 15 bones in the area from the end of your forearm to your fingertips .

    In just your wrist alone there are 8 small carpal bones. Because each of these bones forms joints with the surrounding bones, the wrist can actually be thought of as a series of small joints .

    Image by

    Your carpals connect to the metacarpals of your hand and the radius and ulna of your forearm. Your carpal bones are surrounded by a group of stabilizing ligaments that connect carpals to each other and to surrounding bonds of your hand and forearm .

    A sprain occurs when one of these ligaments is injured and suffers a partial or complete pair like might happen if you fall on your outstretched hand.

    One particular ligament, the scapholunate ligament, is usually involved in those all-too-common FOOSH extension sprains. This ligament connects two carpals your scaphoid and lunate.

    Your scaphoid sits just above your radius at the base of your thumb. Your lunate is next to the scaphoid and sits above the ulna, closer toward the center of your wrist .

    With their location at the base of the wrist, these two carpals and the ligament that connects them tend to take the brunt of damage during an extension injury.

    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.

    What Should You Do If You Think Your Wrist Is Broken

    If you think you may have a fractured wrist or are just not sure, see a medical professional immediately. Imaging, such as x-rays, can help determine if the wrist is fractured, and if so, how badly and where. If you see a General Practitioner, you may be referred to an Orthopedic specialist, like Celebration orthopedics, to determine severity and treatment options. Not seeking medical treatment should never be an option, as it can lead to long term pain, damage, and loss of movement or dexterity. When in doubt, speak to your doctor.

    How To Tell The Difference When Your Wrist Is Injured

    Broken Wrist – Surgery – Fractured Scaphoid

    Before your appointment, you may be able to distinguish between a broken wrist and a wrist sprain in the following ways:

    • Range of motion.Gently attempt to rotate your wrist. In a wrist sprain, you may be able to experience the entire range of motion .
    • Characterize the pain.The severity and intensity of pain depends on the injury. Generally, however, a broken wrist is described as an intense, sharp, stabbing pain. In contrast, a moderate to severe wrist sprain may be more of a throbbing pain. This is due to torn or stretched ligaments.
    • Assess crookedness.When the bones of the wrist are broken, they cause the joint to look crooked or misaligned. In contrast, a wrist sprain results in swelling but does not typically cause crookedness. In very severe cases, a broken wrist may have bone protruding through the skin.
    • X-ray.An X-ray remains the best way to differentiate between wrist fractures and sprains.

    The best way to determine whether youre experiencing a wrist sprain versus a broken wrist is to visit an orthopedic specialist. Our Jacksonville orthopedic surgeons can conduct a thorough assessment to determine the extent of your injury. Call us today to schedule an appointment with one of our specialists.

    Sprained Wrist Vs Broken

    Now, how can you tell if it’s a sprained wrist vs broken wrist? A deformity of the bone, such as a bone sticking out or nearly sticking out of the skin, is the easiest way to tell a broken bone. 

    Otherwise, determining sprained wrist vs broken wrist is not that easy, and we recommend that you see an orthopedic physician who can make that diagnosis.  Sometimes we find that mild pain in the wrist could end up being a fracture, while severe pain could be just a sprain. Therefore, the best decision is to get your injury evaluated by a physician who may use diagnostic testing to confirm their diagnosis. 

    You don’t want to find out too late that you had a broken bone or that you have a severe sprain. This could lead to improper healing or deformity or even necrosis of the bone.

    Dr. Garry Kitay states that “although most wrist injuries can be treated with bracing and rest, certain conditions need urgent attention to avoid long term harm. These include several types of ligament ruptures and unstable fractures. If your pain is severe, or you are not improving quickly, seek medical attention.” Dr. Kitay is a board-certified physician by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery, and he practices at the JOI San Marco location.

    If you want to learn more about wrist sprains, please watch this VIDEO.

    Is My Wrist Fractured

    Fractures can cause mild or dull pain, and sprains can often cause severe pain. There are a few telltale symptoms to detect a wrist fracture: deformity of the wrist or bone matter breaking through the skin are obvious signs of fracture. When these occur, individuals need to seek medical care right away.

    Wrist Fracture Or Sprain

    Apr 11, 2019Hand to Shoulder

    You tripped and fell and landed on a hard surface with your arms outstretched. Nothing feels broken, but you do feel some pain in the wrist area: How can you tell if you have a wrist fracture or a wrist sprain?

    The wrist is a network of many bones and joints. It consists of eight carpal bones, five metacarpals bones and two forearm bones; the radius and ulna. It is the hub to over twenty joints that are held together by ligaments, which makes it a very intricate and complex union.

    When a fall or forceful impact occurs, its a common reaction to stretch your arms out to brace yourself from the impact. By doing so, youre hands and wrists become vulnerable to injury, often resulting in hand, wrist or upper extremity fractures or injuries. If a severe fracture happens, it can easily be detected by the deformity of the wrist and/or bones that may be protruding through the skin. However, in some fractures and injuries it is difficult to determine what the injury really is. In fractures and sprains alike, pain levels can vary, and symptoms are often very similar. If pain is moderate and no symptoms are visible, it is often thought that the injury is merely a sprain; however, that is not always the case.  The information below provides wrist fracture and wrist sprain symptoms which aide in diagnosis:

    Is My Wrist Sprained Or Fractured

    Have I broken my wrist? Do I need an X

    Even a small slip or fall onto an outstretched hand can injure your wrist, but just how bad is it? Should you ice and elevate the injury? Or go to the doctor for an X-ray? Orthopedic surgeon and hand specialist Dr. Andrew Tyser lends his expertise on this episode of The Specialists, and explains what to look out for when it comes to wrist injuries.

    Part 2 Of 2:seeking A Medical Diagnosis

  • 1Consult with your family physician. Although the above information can help you understand if your wrist is sprained and roughly gauge to what extent, your doctor is much more qualified to make an accurate diagnosis. In fact, a detailed history leads to a specific diagnosis in about 70% of wrist pain cases.XTrustworthy SourceAmerican Academy of Family PhysiciansOrganization devoted to improving the health of patients, families, and communitiesGo to source Your doctor will examine your wrist and perform some orthopedic tests on it, and if the injury appears severe, they will likely send you for a wrist x-ray to rule out a fractured bone. X-rays only show bones, however, and not soft tissues such as ligaments, tendons, blood vessels, or nerves.XTrustworthy SourceAmerican Academy of Family PhysiciansOrganization devoted to improving the health of patients, families, and communitiesGo to source Broken carpal bones, particularly hairline fractures, can be tricky to see on x-ray because of their small size and the confined space. If the x-rays are negative for a wrist fracture, but your injury is severe and in need of surgery, the doctor might send you for an MRI or CT scan.
  • Osteoporosis is a significant risk factor for wrist fractures, although it doesn’t increase the risk of wrist sprains.
  • Tendinitis, ruptured tendons and bursitis of the wrist mimic wrist sprains, but an MRI can distinguish between the different injuries.
  • Is My Wrist Broken Or Sprained

    It is a natural instinct to put out a hand and to try to catch oneself during a fall. This impulse is the cause for nearly all wrist sprains and fractures. Medical professionals even have an acronym for this mechanism of injury: FOOSH stands for fall on outstretched hand.

    When a wrist injury occurs, it can be difficult to determine what type of injury has occurred. Most frequently, the resulting wrist injury is either a sprain or fracture.

    How Long Does A Sprained Wrist Take To Heal

    A mild wrist sprain will start feeling better 24 to 48 hours after you start treatment. It will fully heal in 1 or 2 weeks.

    If you have a moderate or severe injury, recovery might last 6 to 8 weeks. Youll need to wear splint for most of this time.

    In a severe sprain, your ligament will heal in 8 to 12 weeks. A full recovery may take 6 to 12 months, especially if you need surgery.

    Its not always possible to avoid accidents, but you can reduce your risk of slips and falls.

    Follow these tips to prevent wrist sprains:

    • Use caution when walking in rain or icy weather.
    • Wear wrist guards during activities like basketball, skiing, and skateboarding. If you fall, the wrist guard will stop your wrist from extreme motions.
    • Wear shoes that properly fit to minimize the risk of falls.
    • Lift heavy objects with both hands to reduce the pressure on each wrist.

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