Hand and wrist fractures are some of the most common injuries. The metacarpals and fingers are more commonly fractured. These fractures can result from different types, such as direct trauma, a fall, or contact sports.
What is a Wrist Fracture?
Wrist fractures occur when one of the bones that make up the wrist breaks. It can occur due to a fall injury or when someone bends or twists their wrist excessively. A broken wrist is a frequent ailment that may typically be treated with splints and rest.
Recovery takes 6-8 weeks, and heavy lifting should be avoided for six weeks following treatment. Wrist fractures are prevalent in young individuals who participate in contact sports or other activities that require twisting or bending of the wrist joint.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Hand & Wrist Fracture?
When the bone breaks, it can cause moderate to severe immediate pain. This causes a limitation of mobility for the hands and wrist joints. Bruising and swelling is the sign of fractured bones and damaged ligaments.
When the fracture is severe, it can visibly cause the bones to deform and the fingers to look abnormal. Sometimes the finger will appear shorter than usual. Broken wrist bones will also limit the person from forming a fist. When the fifth metacarpal is fractured, it causes a particular ‘boxer’s fracture’ that appears as a bowing or depressed knuckle. Symptoms can get worse if you do not get the proper treatment.
How Are Wrist Fractures Diagnosed?
The signs and symptoms of a fracture will usually lead to the diagnosis of a fracture, but further tests will be needed to confirm hand and wrist fractures. X-rays are the imaging tests that will most certainly detect distal radius fractures.
Your hand fracture surgeon will perform a physical examination and use x-rays to determine whether a bone has been shattered. To gain a clearer picture of the broken wrists and other injuries, bone scanning examinations like a CT scan or an MRI scan may be required.
How Are Fractures of the Hand Treated?
In most cases, when the wrist joint fracture is mild and does not cause deformities, patients would not require surgical treatment. It’s a common injury that can be treated with nonsurgical treatments and proper physical therapy.
If the broken wrist bone fragments are out of place and are likely to impede your arm’s future function, they may need to be realigned. The technique by which the orthopaedic surgeons put the fractured pieces into position is known as reduction.
A closed reduction occurs when a bone is straightened without making an incision in the skin. A splint or cast may also be placed on your arm once the bone has been appropriately positioned to maintain the bones aligned.
The fracture will usually heal in about six weeks with proper rest and splinting. Splinting will immobilize broken wrists; this will help the healing process. Depending on the type of fracture, your hand surgeon may take frequent X-rays to carefully watch the healing process, it requires proper medical attention.
X-rays are frequently done at weekly intervals for 2-3 weeks and then again at six weeks in patients treated without surgery. If the fracture is deemed stable, X-rays might be required less often. If the fracture becomes misaligned at any point, surgery might be needed.
When hand and wrist fractures are severe injuries and are poorly stable and cause visible deformity, the only option is surgical treatment. Open fractures or fractures likely to cause skin infections will also require surgical treatments to prevent infection.
The surgical procedure for hand and wrist fractures involves suturing the soft tissue and fixing the bone and tendons with implants back in their correct position. After surgery, post-op rehabilitation and physiotherapy are crucial for the wrist fracture to heal. Following your hand surgeon’s guidelines for hand and wrist fracture treatment is important.
Recovery Timeline For A Broken Wrist
Recovery depends on many factors and the type of distal radius fracture and wrist fracture treatment options available. Ask your doctor for precise details regarding your rehab program and risk factors before returning to everyday activities. Most distal radius fractures heal in 3 months or less before you can resume all activities, and complete healing from these injuries can take up to a year.
Pain Management After Surgery
Most fractures pain significantly for a few days to a few weeks. Many people find that employing ice, elevation (raising their arm over their heart), and non-prescription pain relievers efficiently relieve their discomfort.
Your doctor may advise you to take ibuprofen and acetaminophen together to alleviate pain and inflammation. Both medications act significantly better together than each one alone. If your pain is severe, your doctor may advise you to take a prescription-strength pain reliever, such as an opioid, for a few weeks.
How To Care For Cast & Wound?
In rare circumstances, original casts will be changed because inflammation has decreased to the point where the cast has become loose. The last cast is generally removed after around six weeks for non-operative fractures.
Casts and splints must be kept dry during recovery. While showering, place a plastic bag over your arm. If the cast becomes wet, it will not dry quickly. A cool-setting hair dryer may be helpful. If the cast becomes moist, it must frequently be replaced. Most surgical wounds must be kept clean and dry for at least five days. After your operation, your doctor will advise you when it is safe to remove the bandages.
When Would I Return To Normal Activities?
After a wrist fracture, most patients resume all of their previous activities. The type of damage, therapy administered, and the body’s reaction to the treatment all influence. In some instances, such injuries might result in lasting functioning limitations.
Almost all patients will have wrist stiffness. This will generally improve within a month or two of the cast being removed or surgery and will continue to improve for at least two years. If your doctor believes it is necessary, you will begin physical therapy within a few days to weeks following surgery or immediately after the final cast is removed.
Most patients can resume mild activities, such as kayaking or lower-body exercise in the gym, one to two months after the cast is removed or one to two months after surgery. Sports like skiing or football can be resumed between 3 and 6 months following the injury.
Hand And Wrist Fracture Surgery Long-Term Outcomes
The recovery period for a broken wrist can extend for more than a year. For the first year, expect some pain with intense activity. Some residual stiffness or discomfort is expected for at least two years, and possibly forever, especially for severe energies (such as motorcycle accidents), individuals over 50, or patients with osteoarthritis. If you’re looking to get the proper treatment for your hand and wrist fracture, book an appointment at SBF Sportshand today.
At SBF Sportshand, we provide diagnoses and treatment for your hand and wrist problems. Our team of specialists-led by Dr. Peng Yeong Pin, is a 2001 National University of Singapore graduate. After completing his advanced specialist training in orthopaedics, he received his F.R.C.S.F.R.C.S. Ed (Orth) certification in 2010.
He has a strong interest in sports and engages in various activities, such as wakeboarding, powerlifting, and Muay Thai, which has given him a thorough grip on sports-related injuries and the optimum treatment methods. He has particular expertise with keyhole surgeries.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)- Hand & Wrist Fracture
Even when two bones are adequately treated, some complications usually lie in the backdrop. These range from Factures that have spread to the joints that can lead to osteoarthritis.
Severe fractures may cause nerve or blood vessel damage, which may need medical treatment or result in permanent disability.
Severe injuries may always cause partial stiffness and soreness in the hand and wrist when any pressure is applied to them. It's essential to ask your doctor how to take care of these complications.