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What To Do With A Broken Wrist

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  • Fracture displacement
  • Comminution
  • Joint involvement
  • Associated ulna fracture and injury to the median nerve
  • Whether it is the dominant hand
  • Your occupation and activity level

In any case, the immediate fracture treatment is the application of a splint for comfort and pain control. If the fracture is displaced, it is reduced before it is placed in a splint. Fracture reduction is performed under local anesthesia, which means only the painful area is numbed.

How To Recognize And Treat A Broken Wrist

Michael Menna, DO, is board-certified in emergency medicine. He is an attending emergency medicine physician at White Plains Hospital in White Plains, New York and also works at an urgent care center and a telemedicine company that provides care to patients across the country.

Nobody denies that a broken wrist is a very painful injury. However, as bad as they feel, they’re rarely life-threatening emergencies. In many cases, there’s not much you can do to help at home. This is going to require a trip to the emergency department .

The following steps will help you learn to recognize a broken wrist and to decide how to take care of it.

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.

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Recovery time for a fractured wrist depends on the person and the depth of the fracture a cast may be worn anywhere from several weeks to a few months. Being sidelined for all that time can be extremely frustrating. Though you may not be able to play your favorite sport, there are ways to stay active during the course of your injury. Ask your doctor for guidance on how to exercise with a broken wrist and how gradually to ramp up your intensity.

Tip

Exercising with a cast on your arm is challenging, but you can maintain your fitness by focusing on your lower body and core. You can also do cardio training that doesn’t require pressure on your hands or arms, such as stationary cycling. Consult your doctor before performing any of these exercises with a fractured wrist.

Surgery For Distal Radius Fractures

fracture insurance

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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What You Need To Know

  • Distal radius fractures are one of the most common types of bone fractures. They occur at the end of the radius bone near the wrist.
  • Depending on the angle of the break, distal radius fractures can be classified into two types: Colles or Smith.
  • Falls are the main cause of distal radius fractures. They may also occur during trauma from a vehicle accident or sports injury.
  • Treatment varies but may include a sling or cast and sometimes surgery in the case of an unstable or displaced fracture.

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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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.

Hairline Wrist Fracture Cast Or Splint

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Immobilization may require a custom splint or a cast. For workers or athletes who need to continue their activity while healing, an ActivArmor cast may be an option. ActivArmor is the latest technology in casting. This allows 3D scanning and printing of a hard plastic custom cast. This allows the fractured area to get wet and protects against potential forces.

Hairline Fracture Wrist Cast in ActivArmor

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What Are The Treatment Options For A Broken Wrist

In the majority of cases, surgery isnt necessary for wrist fractures. Your doctor may be able to reset the fracture, put a splint and then a cast on your wrist, and wait for the bones to heal. Regular X-rays will be performed to make sure your wrist is healing as it should.

The exact type of treatment youll need depends on some of the following factors:

  • Fracture location
  • Hand dominance

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.

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When Surgery Might Be Needed

This is a difficult question to answer and must be addressed on a case by case basis. Even on an individual basis, orthopedists may differ on their opinion of optimal treatment for a given fracture.

Some of the following are important considerations in determining whether or not surgery is necessary for a broken wrist:

As stated earlier, surgery is not usually needed for a wrist fracture, but it may be considered in some situations. If surgery is performed, there are several options for treatment. Some fractures may be secured with pins to hold the fragments in place. Another option is an external fixator, a device that uses pins through the skin and a device outside the skin to pull the fragments into position. Finally, plates and screws may be used to position the fracture properly.

Do You Get A Cast After Wrist Surgery

Wrist Fracture

After surgery , you can expect to wear a fixed splint, cast , or removable splint. 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.

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Establishing Liability For A Broken Wrist At Work

Parliamentary acts and government regulations such as the Health and Safety at Work Act of 1973, the Workplace Health, Safety and Welfare Regulations 1992, and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 make employers legally liable for their employees health and safety whilst they are at work. Amongst their responsibilities for preventing accidents in the workplace, employers have to carry out full risk assessments to identify hazards and put in place the correct control measure to remove or manage the hazard. This could include providing staff training, providing appropriate footwear, ensuring that spills are immediately cleaned up and fixing broken flooring.

If it can be proven that an employer failed to carry out a regular risk assessment or was aware of hazards that posed a risk to their employees health and safety but failed to remove or control the risk, they could be held liable for the employees injuries. They will then be legally obliged to pay them compensation. If you have suffered a broken wrist at work or another wrist injury such as a fractured wrist, sprain, strain, repetitive strain injury or carpal tunnel syndrome, then you can claim wrist injury at work compensation.

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Recovery When You Don’t Need Surgery

Your doctor may be able to place your wrist in the right position for your bones to heal correctly. This procedure is called a closed reduction. You won’t need surgery. After the procedure, you may need a splint to keep your fracture stable so it will heal. The splint allows some room for swelling. You may also wear a sling to support your wrist. Keep the splint dry.

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.

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Are There Any Other Treatment Options Being Investigated

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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More Factors That Affect The Cost Of Wrist Surgery

How a wrist fracture is treated
  • Prescriptions A physician may prescribe painkillers or antibiotics post-procedure. To avoid high prescription prices, make sure your insurance policy covers the prescriptions you receive. You can also ask if there is a generic version of the same medicine, which can help lower the cost.
  • Additional office visits In some cases, you may be charged a separate fee for an initial consultation with the surgeon before the procedure. Complications from wrist surgery are rare. However, your doctor will want to see you for a follow-up appointment one to two weeks after your surgery to evaluate your recovery. Patients often see their doctor at least once more after that, depending on the type of surgery. Ask if these follow up visits are included in the total cost of your procedure.

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How Do I Know If I Need Wrist Fracture Surgery

The following factors are considered by your doctor when assessing if wrist fracture surgery is necessary. If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then your doctor will most likely recommend surgery.

  • Are the bones shifted out of position?
  • Are the bones fragmented and unstable?
  • Is the wrist joint, as a whole, affected by the injury?

What Are The Symptoms Of A Broken Wrist

Common symptoms of a broken wrist include:

  • severe pain in your wrist
  • swollen wrist
  • a bruise around your wrist
  • tingling or numbness of your hands or fingers
  • difficulty moving your hands and fingers
  • your wrist appears odd in shape.
If you think you or someone you care for has a broken wrist, you should:
  • go to the nearest emergency department or call 111 if it is broken badly
  • contact your GP if it is a minor break
  • stop using or avoid moving the injured arm as much as possible
  • apply pressure to stop bleeding using a clean pad or dressing if there is any bleeding
  • ice the injured area using an ice pack wrapped in a clean towel
  • avoid eating and drinking in case you need surgery to fix the broken bone.

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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 Will I Benefit From An Injury Claim

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You could be entitled to a number of benefits through a wrist injury compensation claim.

These include:

  • Travel expenses: the amount of expense incurred during your treatment
  • Care assistance: full time help required for your injuries
  • Equipment purchases: tools and equipment required for your treatment
  • Medical expense: amount spent on your medicines, or medical follow ups
  • Loss of earning: expense incurred on your treatment and medication
  • Psychological damage: counselling and therapy after your damages
  • Loss of income: in case of loss of job or hindered ability to work
  • Ongoing expense: long term medical assistance

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Common Causes Of A Broken Wrist

Broken wrists, or Colles fractures, are the most common fracture of the arm. They occur when the larger of the two forearm bones breaks near the wrist on the thumb side. Activities that put people at risk for broken wrists include in-line skating, skiing, and biking, although anyone who falls onto an outstretched hand can break a wrist. Elderly people who are prone to falls and have osteoporosis have a high risk of breaking their wrists.

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Workplace Accident And Injury Statistics

Accidents at work can cause several injuries, including a fractured wrist. Employers reported around 65,427 non-fatal injuries during 2019/20 to RIDDOR. 18,535 of those were fractures, and 18,371 were sprains and strains.

The cause of these injuries in the workplace may vary. However, some common kinds of accidents that were reported to RIDDOR during 2019/20 could have contributed to an injury such as a broken wrist. For example:

  • 2,445 accidents involving contact with moving machinery
  • 6,935 accidents involving being struck by moving, flying or falling objects
  • 1,483 accidents involving being struck by a moving vehicle
  • 2,488 reports of striking against something fixed or stationary
  • Injured while handling, lifting or carrying had 12,344 cases
  • Slips trips or falls on the same level had 19,219 cases
  • Falls from height had 5,214 cases
  • Trapped by something collapsing/overturning had 214 cases

As you can see, accidents leading to fractures arent uncommon, and if the accident was caused by someone else, there could be grounds to claim. There arent any specific examples of typical payouts for a personal injury at work because figures can vary depending on the severity of the specific injury you have.

For more information on accidents at work compensation examples, see our table below or head here to use our compensation calculator.

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