When To Start Exercising
How long you need to rest and address swelling in the wrist depends on the severity of your injury and symptoms. If starting an exercise program aggravates symptoms significantly, it means you probably did too much to start and need to back off and return to your home treatment remedies before resuming.
- A low-grade sprain will typically require 0-3 days of rest and pain management before initiating simple wrist exercises.
- A moderate sprain will require more rest time. Generally, 3-14 days will be enough. When symptoms of pain and swelling start to decrease you can initiate a program and monitor your symptoms for feedback.
- A complete tear will most likely require extensive rest, bracing or wrapping, and potentially surgery. To minimize further risk of instability and injury, adequate rest for 2- 6 weeks is typically warranted. Prior to clearance for wrist exercise from your doctor, you will want to focus on keeping the rest of the arm as mobile as possible.
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.
Elbow Wrist & Hand Rehab Program
Elbow, wrist, & hand pain often times get neglected until its too late, turning a minor fixable ache into a potential chronic pain and debilitating issue. This program is an 8-week program designed to minimize pain and optimize your elbow, wrist, and hand health. We make it easy and teach you how to self Rehab this area and keep it healthy for anything life throws at you through detailed exercise programming and our signature resource videos.
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Wrist Radial And Ulnar Deviation
Your starting position will be the same as it was for wrist flexion and extension with the palm facing down. This time you will be moving the wrist from side to side toward the thumb side and then the pinky side. This is a very small wrist movement so dont force it. Make sure to keep the wrist in neutral throughout the exercise.
Alternate 15 times in each direction for up to 2 sets per day.
Wrist Stiffness After A Colles Fracture
You dont know how much you need it until its gone mobility in your wrist is crucial for most tasks you do throughout the day. Think about just a few activities you do every morning: brushing your teeth, washing your hair, putting on socks, or spreading butter on your toast. Try doing these things with a stiff wrist and youll quickly realize how much you take normal wrist mobility for granted. Luckily there are exercises you can do to improve wrist stiffness and get back to better function.
Heres some more info and a few great exercise videos
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Exercises You Can Do While Wearing Your Boot Cast
When I broke my wrist after falling off my bike, I could not put any weight on it for four weeks. During this time, I did a lot of research on the best at-home exercises that are safe. Staying fit has to be a consistent habit, after all! So, based on what I learned, here are some exercises you can do at home with a broken wrist.
Modify Planks And Push
Bodyweight exercises like planks and push-ups can be challenging, if not impossible when you are working with a wrist injury. One way to continue doing these exercises is to modify them with dumbbells or kettlebells.
Instead of putting your hands flat on the floor, place two dumbbells or kettlebells under your shoulders and grip the handles instead. If you are in a cast or splint, you will not be able to take advantage of this modification.
But, if your wrists are sore or achy, you can give this hack a try, so you do not have to skip push-ups and planks altogether.
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How To Keep Active If You Have A Broken Arm
A broken arm will definitely take some time to heal. However, simply sitting around being sedentary is not a good idea. Exercising regularly is among the most important aspects of maintaining good health. Furthermore, the enhanced blood circulation actually promotes quicker healing. Here are some tips to stay active with a broken arm.
Recovery From A Colles Wrist Fracture
A Colles wrist fracture can take a year or more to fully heal. Your cast will typically be removed about six weeks after surgery in a child, but relatively soon after surgery in an adult to mobilize the joint. You should be able to do light activities about a month or two after your cast is removed. Usually, you can start doing more intense activities about 3 to 6 months after surgery.
Your wrist will probably feel stiff for about a month or two after the cast is off. You might continue to have a dull ache or stiffness for about two years. Some people develop carpal tunnel syndrome after having a Colles wrist fracture. If youre older, you might not be able to fully move your wrist.
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Types Of Wrist Fractures
The type of fracture plays a role in the doctors interpretation of the injury and decision making about the best way to treat the fracture. Wrist fractures can be classified a few different ways based on the location and type of break:
- Intra-articular vs. extra-articular An intra-articular fracture extends into the wrist joint, while an extra-articular fracture doesnt extend into the wrist joint.
- Displaced vs. nondisplaced Displaced fractures are when the bones have moved out of place and no longer line up straight. Nondisplaced fractures can be stable as the bones havent moved out of place.
- Comminuted In this type of injury, the bone is broken in several places.
- Compound This is now called an open fracture and is when there is a break or opening in the skin near the site of injury.
Intermediate Colles Fracture Rehabilitation Exercises
- As above, but hold a dumbbell in your hand. Repeat 2 sets of 10 reps. 2 times per day.
- Hold a hammer in your hand with your elbow bent to 90 degrees.
- Rotate the hammer in each direction. Start with 10 times each way. Do 2 sets. Repeat 2 times a day. The closer your hand is to the head of the hammer, the easier it will be.
- Start from your hands and knees if you have to, and try to progress to full push ups . Progress to 2 sets of 10 reps. Complete 1-2x/day.
- Stand on a step in front of a pull up bar. Grab onto the bars so your palms are facing you.
- Pull yourself up, squeezing your shoulder blades together, until your chin is above the bar. Slowly lower yourself back down and repeat.
- Try to progress to 2 sets of 10 reps. Complete 1-2x/day
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Every Year 1 Million People Worldwide Break Their Wrist
One of the most common wrist injuries is a distal radius fracture which is a break of the large bone in your wrist near your thumb. With a distal radius fracture, the wrist is immobilized to allow healing to occur.
Often, the cast or splint is removable, especially if you had surgery to allow early wrist exercises. Disclosure: ONLY your Physician or Hand Therapist will tell you when you can begin wrist exercises.
According to the American Society for Surgery of the Hand , During recovery, it is very important to keep your fingers moving to keep them from getting stiff. Your hand surgeon will have you start moving your wrist at the right time for your fracture.
If your wrist is healed and you are ready to start moving, check out our video on how to improve wrist flexibility here.
In this post, I will only be addressing 5 gentle and safe finger exercises with a wrist cast on. These exercises allow the tendons and muscles in your fingers to move without allowing wrist motion. Of course, if you are in a cast that includes your fingers you should NOT perform these exercises. If your fingers and thumb are out of the cast that usually means you are free to move them!
Ideally Your Cast Should Allow Full Finger Motion As Shown Here
It is very common for fingers to get stiff when you have a cast or splint on. Swelling, pain, and restrictions from the cast or splint can quickly cause the small joints and ligaments in your fingers to lose flexibility.
This loss of flexibility can result in pain, more swelling, and potential deformities of your fingers. That is why it is so important to immediately begin gentle and safe finger exercises in a wrist cast.
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What Are Some Of The Big Differences
We aim to get you better quicker in a friendly and caring environment conducive to successful healing. Our therapists pride themselves on keeping up to date with the latest research and treatment skills to ensure that they provide you with the most advantageous treatment methods. They are continually updating their knowledge via seminars, conferences, workshops, scientific journals etc. Not only will you receive a detailed consultation, but we offer long-term solutions, not just quick fixes that, in reality, only last for a short time. We attempt to treat the cause, not just the symptoms.
PhysioWorks clinics are modern thinking. Not only in their appearance but in the equipment we use and in our therapists’ knowledge. Our staff care about you! We are always willing to go that ‘extra mile’ to guarantee that we cater to our client’s unique needs. All in all, we feel that your chances of the correct diagnosis, the most effective treatment and the best outcomes are all the better at PhysioWorks.
Dont Ignore Wrist Injuries
Wrist fractures, like essentially all broken bones are best treated when treated early. This may be as simple and putting a brace on, which will immobilize and protect the bone easing the pain and preventing displacement.
Some fractures, like the scaphoid fracture, have poor outcomes when treated late. Due to its unique blood supply, scaphoid fractures have higher risk of non-healing or nonunion than other wrist bones. When this bone does not heal, it will, overtime, develop a predictable pattern of wrist arthritis.
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How Does A Wrist Fracture Happen
Virtually anyone can take a tumble and end up with a broken wrist, says Dr. Swigart, but the majority of the people she sees with the problem fall into one of two categories.
The first group is elderly men and women who are vulnerable to wrist fracture because of low bone density. Because their bones are fragile, It doesnt take much of a fall to break the wrist, Dr. Swigart says.
Patients in the second group, she says, tend to be younger and more active, with fractured wrists resulting from what Dr. Swigart calls higher energy mechanisms, such as a skiing mishap or getting hit while playing contact sports. The breaks those patients sustain tend to involve the wrist joint and are often more severe, Dr. Swigart says.
/ Combine Moves For Similar Results
Some of the classic moves that you can’t do if you have an injury can be broken down into their component parts to get similar results.
Alex Chaple, PT Ambassador at Fitness First advises switching a press-up for a flat dumbbell press and the plank ‘The traditional press-up/push-up is designed to work all of your pressing muscles along with your abdominal wall.
‘The DB press allows the same, if not more, tension placed on the primary pressing muscles and completely eliminates wrist issues – as the dumbbells can be held to how suits the exerciser.
‘The plank will allow the same abdominal bracing, but by resting on your elbows you eliminate the wrist issue.’
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Hand And Wrist Exercises
The wrist joint operates like a hinge, and the most common wrist physical therapy exercise, known as an extension/flexion, involves bending the wrist up and down on that hinge. As healing develops, you can perform this exercise with a weight in hand to further strengthen the muscles. The wrist also has a limited movement side to side, which is known as a wrist deviation.
A third movement, the supination/pronation, involves flipping the forearm up and down. Other exercises include extending your fingers, squeezing a tennis ball/hand grip or a prayer stretch. You can also perform isometric exercises, which are exercises without muscle contractions, by simply pushing against your stationary hand.
Each of these movements is a vital part of the stages of physical therapy. However, a medical professional is needed to make exercise recommendations and demonstrate proper mechanics. Physical therapy is usually done in an out-patient setting and should be supervised. You may be able to start a home program once you have learned proper form and routine.
How To Keep Training With An Injured Arm
Trying to maintain strength and fitness while you’re healing from a broken bone? Here are some workouts.
Im training for a hilly fall marathon, and I broke my wrist two weeks ago riding my bike. My doc has given me the green light to run again, but Im struggling with how to modify my plan until I get the cast off in 6-8 weeks. I usually strength-train 2-3 times per week and ride my mountain bike twice a week while marathon training. Do you have any tips for maintaining strength and cross-training fitness while Im healing? ~Jon
Hi Jon, Im sorry to hear about your fall and injury, but Im happy you have the go-ahead from your doc to continue marathon training. While it sounds as if youre okay running, Id give yourself the next few weeks to run on predictable surfaces like paved paths or roads versus technical trails, so you reduce the chance of falling. It may take a few runs to get used to running with the cast and comfortable in your stride.
There are plenty of exercises you can do to maintain your strength and cycling fitness while youre healing. Here is a 6-minute strength-training routine that will kick your butt even though it comes in a mini package. You can perform this workout after cycling, or weave it into a cycling circuit workout where you ride for 3-5 minutes and then perform one of these workouts, alternating riding with strength exercises throughout the ride.
Repeat 6 times:
Cool down riding easy for five minutes.
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How Is A Wrist Fracture Treated
Our treatment decisions are not only based on what the X-ray looks like but on who the fracture happened to, who that person is, explains Dr. Swigart. Factors taken into consideration include whether one or more bones are broken, in one or several places whether torn ligaments are involved, and whether there are other injuries that require treatment.The good news is, most people with wrist fracture recover fully. According to Dr. Swigart, the range of treatment options for wrist fracture include:
- Wearing a cast or splint, usually for five to six weeks, followed by physical therapy to gain strength and restore range of motion.
- Surgery to fix the break, using pins to hold the bone in place. The pins are usually temporary. After the outpatient surgery, patients wear a cast or splint for several weeks, and then have physical therapy.
- Reconstructive surgery, also an outpatient procedure, uses plates and screws to repair the damaged bone. Patients are required to wear a cast for two to three weeks, and then transition to a removable brace and begin physical therapy.
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Surgery For Distal Radius Fractures
This option is usually for fractures that are considered unstable or cant be treated with a cast. Surgery is typically performed through an incision over the volar aspect of your wrist . This allows full access to the break. The pieces are put together and held in place with one or more plates and screws.
In certain cases, a second incision is required on the back side of your wrist to re-establish the anatomy. Plates and screws will be used to hold the pieces in place. If there are multiple bone pieces, fixation with plates and screws may not be possible. In these cases, an external fixator with or without additional wires may be used to secure the fracture. With an external fixator, most of the hardware remains outside of the body.
After the surgery, a splint will be placed for two weeks until your first follow-up visit. At that time, the splint will be removed and exchanged with a removable wrist splint. You will have to wear it for four weeks. You will start your physical therapy to regain wrist function and strength after your first clinic visit. Six weeks after your surgery, you may stop wearing the removable splint. You should continue the exercises prescribed by your surgeon and therapist. Early motion is key to achieving the best recovery after surgery.
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