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How To Tell If Wrist Is Broken

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Diagnosis And Treatment: How Dr Knight Can Help

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

A physical examination from the doctor, combined with a detailed medical history, may be enough to diagnose the injury; however, an x-ray is deemed the gold standard to identify a fracture. That said, some smaller breaks e.g., a scaphoid fracture may take up to two weeks to appear on an x-ray, complicating diagnosis in the emergency room or urgent care immediately after the injury. In these cases, an MRI or CT scan, which elucidate damage to the soft tissues of the joint, can improve diagnosis.

Treatment for wrist sprains and fractures may be non-surgical or surgical. Immobilization with a splint or cast is common for milder fractures, while various surgical techniques such as the use of pins to fix fractured bone segments together may be needed for complex or severe breaks.

Wrist sprains seldom require surgery, but they can be tricky and often cause much more damage than is apparent. The use of ice, compression, and splinting can go a long way for milder sprains, but a full tear of a ligament will require surgical repair.

It is important for both injuries to be treated as soon and as comprehensively as possible to avoid any lasting, chronic pain or malformation of the joint. Dr. Knight is one of the premier national wrist specialists with extensive experience in non-surgical and surgical treatment of the wrist. For a deep dive on the treatments offered by Dr. Knight for each injury, see the wrist sprain, wrist fracture, and scaphoid fracture pages.

About Upmc Orthopaedic Care

As a national leader in advanced orthopaedic care, UPMC treats a full range of musculoskeletal disorders, from the acute and chronic to the common and complex. Whether you have bone, muscle, or joint pain, we provide access to UPMCs vast network of support services for both surgical and nonsurgical treatments and a full continuum of care. As leaders in research and clinical trials with cutting-edge tools and techniques, UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside appears on U.S. News & World Reports rankings of the top hospitals in the country for orthopaedics.

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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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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.

How Long Does It Take To Recover From A Broken Arm Or Wrist

Heather Morrison: Wy

In most cases it takes around 6 to 8 weeks to recover from a broken arm or wrist. It can take longer if your arm or wrist was severely damaged.

You will need to wear your plaster cast until the broken bone heals. The skin under the cast may be itchy for a few days but this should pass.

The hospital will give you an advice sheet on exercises you should do every day to help speed up your recovery.

Your arm or wrist may be stiff and weak after the cast is removed. A physiotherapist can help with these problems, although sometimes they can last several months or more.

Also Check: How To Sprain Your Wrist Without Pain

Exceptions To The Rules

There are major exceptions to these rules. For example, a fractured scaphoid bone may hurt for a few days and then stop hurting completely its the best imitator of wrist sprains out there. Many scaphoid fractures have been mis-diagnosed as wrist sprains over the years, leading to early arthritis and wrist pain.

In a similar way, if the wrong ligaments are torn in the wrist, it will lead to arthritis as the bones that used to be held together now move abnormally against one another.

Identifying Symptoms Of A Sprained Wrist

  • 1Expect some pain with movement. Wrist sprains have a wide range of severity depending on the degree of stretch and/or tearing to the involved ligament. Mild wrist sprains , involve some ligament stretching, but no significant tearing; moderate sprains involve significant tearing ; severe sprains involve a greater amount of tearing or complete rupture of the ligament.XResearch source Consequently, with Grade 1 and 2 wrist sprains, movement will be relatively normal, albeit painful. A Grade 3 sprain often leads to joint instability with movement because the involved ligament is no longer properly attached to its wrist bones. In contrast, movement is typically much more restricted with wrist fractures and there’s often a grinding feeling with movement.
  • Grade 1 wrist sprains are mildly painful and the pain is usually described as a soreness that can be sharp with movement.
  • Grade 2 wrist sprains generate moderate-to-severe pain, depending on the degree of tearing; the pain is sharper than a Grade 1 tear and sometimes also throbbing because of inflammation.
  • Grade 3 wrist sprains are often less painful than Grade 2 varieties because the ligament is completely severed and not irritating surrounding nerves as much although Grade 3 injuries eventually throb significantly due to accumulating inflammation.
  • Swelling from inflammation doesn’t cause much color change to skin, aside from some redness from “flushing” due to all the warm fluid underneath the skin.
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    When To See A Hand Surgeon

    If you have any suspicions that you may have a fracture, its best to make an appointment with your hand surgeon within a few days. This is because the best way to know if you have a fracture is by getting an x-ray. While urgent care can x-ray and splint your fracture, they can miss the subtler injuries which may delay care. Youll get all the answers you need by seeing a specialist sooner rather than later to avoid further complications.

    Heres how to handle seeing a hand surgeon when you suspect a wrist fracture:

    • If your wrist is deformed, bruising is present, its severely swollen, or if pain prevents you from moving your wrist normally in any direction its time to see a hand surgeon.
    • For milder injuries, call your doctor if your wrist symptoms dont improve within two to three days after your injury.
    • See a hand surgeon immediately if you have numbness or trouble moving your fingers.
    • You need to go to the ER right away if you have an open fracture .

    Are There Any Other Treatment Options Being Investigated

    How to tell the difference between a Wrist Sprain and a Fracture

    For osteoarthritis, some clinical research trials are underway in the U.S. exploring stem cell treatment. Early findings are encouraging. Stem cell therapy so far has shown to provide some pain relief and improvement in function. The ultimate goal would hopefully be to use stem cells to regrow cartilage.

    Over the past decade, researchers developed many new medications for psoriatic arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, with more studies underway.

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    Signs Of A Broken Wrist

    While you will have pain in your wrist regardless of if its broken or sprained, you will have significantly more pain if you break your wrist.;

    Some of the signs of a broken wrist include:;

    • Swelling
    • Tenderness to touch

    You might also experience tingling in your fingers.;

    Another sign to consider is if you are completely unable to move your wrist either because you have so much pain or because of the swelling.;

    Broken Wrist Vs Sprained Wrist

    A sprained wrist happens when a ligament in the wrist becomes injured. Ligaments are bands of connected tissue that stretch from bone to bone. Wrist sprains usually involve an overstretched or torn ligament.;

    A broken wrist happens when you fracture a bone in the wrist. The wrist is made up of 13 different bones that can break during an injury. Even the smallest of fractures can cause considerable pain.

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    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.
  • But What If Its A Wrist Fracture

    The Best Way to Heal your Broken Wrist

    A fractured wrist is a common occurrence;in people who have recently tried to catch themselves while falling. You might also experience a wrist fracture in a car accident or it might be the result of a sports injury.;

    Your wrist;is comprised of 8 small bones that are then connected to your radius and ulna. When you attempt to catch yourself during a fall, your radius is the bone that takes the brunt, making it the;most commonly broken bone;in a wrist fracture.;

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    What Is The Physiological Difference Between A Wrist Sprain And A Broken Wrist

    The wrist is anatomically complex. A wrist sprain occurs when a ligament in the wrist is injured. Ligaments are bands of connective tissue that stretch from one bone to another. Wrist sprains typically involve stretching or tearing a ligament.

    In contrast, a broken wrist occurs when you actually fracture a bone in the wrist. The wrist consists of 13 different bones, and any of these could be fractured during an injury. This could be as small as a hairline fracture in the bone, but a broken wrist can cause major pain.

    Broken Hand Treatment Options: Hand Fracture Surgery

    Fractures that cannot be properly corrected with the aforementioned treatment strategies will require broken hand surgery. During hand fracture surgery, local or general anesthesia may be used depending on the specific surgery. Broken hand surgery may involve the use of small pins and wires that will hold the fractured bones in place for several weeks. In some instances, metal plates and screws may be utilized to ensure the bones of the hand are properly aligned. If a bone has been shattered, it may be necessary to use a bone graft transplanted from another part of the patients body. A bone graft may also be used to treat a bone that has not healed properly after a previous injury.

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    What Makes Yale Medicine’s Approach To Treating Wrist Fracture Unique

    Treatment of wrist fracture can be quite complex. Dr. Swigart believes that patients benefit when treated by an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in hand surgery and performs many wrist fracture repair procedures.

    There are a variety of ways to fix a distal radius fracture, including several different types of implants, explains Dr. Swigart. And while some types of implants are used often, others are only employed rarely. Its important to work with a doctor who knows about and is able to use all of them, she adds.

    Also of value, Dr. Swigart says, is Yale Medicines involvement in clinical research, which often gives patients access to leading edge techniques and therapies well before they become widely available. For example, she says: My work includes both clinical and biomechanical research on treating wrist fracture, and our department has been consistently involved. Being involved in the research brings insights into why things work and which things work best.

    Can You Move Your Wrist With A Hairline Fracture

    How to Treat a Fractured Wrist

    You can move the wrist with a hairline fracture but it is typically not recommended. ;It also depends on the location of the fracture and it severity. ;Immobilization is typically recommended to prevent healing complications. ;If you have persistent wrist pain that wont go away, you should be evaluated by an orthopedic hand specialist.

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    Trusted Hand Doctors For All Your Needs

    If you suspect your hand is broken, dont wait to see a doctor. Delaying treatment can cause further damage and in some cases lead to surgery or permanent damage.

    Depending on the nature of your injury, your doctor may order x-rays or an MRI to rule out additional damage to the surrounding ligaments and tendons.

    Dont let a hand injury slow your down. Whether youve;gotten hurt and suspect a broken bone or are experiencing general;discomfort within your hands, contact us today.

    Our highly-knowledgeable physicians have the experience and;equipment;to treat;any hand injury.;A member of our dedicated staff is ready to help you and will be happy to set you up with an appointment.

    Never underestimate the importance of your hands.

    Wrist Fracture Or Sprain

    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:

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    When To Seek Medical Care

    If you have severe pain, deformity, numbness, or are unable to move your wrist, you should call your doctor for an immediate appointment, go to an urgent care clinic, or go to a hospital’s emergency department.

    If there is no deformity and the pain is manageable with over-the-counter pain medication, you may want to wait 12-24 hours before deciding whether to call the doctor. If symptoms persist after a day, see a doctor.

    If you have obvious deformity, numbness, or severe pain, you need medical attention.

    • If there is obvious deformity or severe swelling, there may be a broken bone that needs to be moved back into its normal position.
    • There also can be a dislocation where the bones are no longer in the correct position, although they are not broken.

    Broken Hand Symptoms: How Do I Know If I Have A Broken Hand

    Is My Wrist Broken or Sprained?

    Approximately 6 million people suffer a broken bone every year in the United States, and broken fingers are very common. The location and severity of the hand fracture will determine the symptoms the patient experiences and the available treatment options. So what does a broken hand feel like? Lets take a look at a few of the most common broken hand symptoms.

    Fractured hand symptoms involving the metacarpals include pain, swelling, general tenderness along the site of the injury, and bruising. These metacarpal fractures symptoms may be more pronounced as the patient makes a fist or even loosely grips items. Metacarpal fractures may also give the involved fingers a shortened appearance. For example, Boxers fracture symptoms may include the knuckle appearing indented or crushed inward due to displacement along the neck of the metacarpal. Broken finger symptoms include pain, decreased range of motion, swelling, and sensitivity to even the lightest touch. Fractured finger symptoms may also include bruising, and its possible for the finger to appear deformed or misaligned. Broken thumb symptoms include swelling, bruising, sensitivity to the touch, and decreased range of motion. Some patients also report numbness or feelings of cold around the injury. In some cases, the hand or fingers may change colors, becoming pale or even blue, after a fracture of the hand. Patients may also notice other tactile sensations, such as tingling.

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