Broken wrists, also known as distal radius fractures or Colles’ fractures, occur when one or more of the bones in a person’s wrist break or crack. This type of injury is quite common as people instinctively use their hands and wrists to break a fall, landing hard on their outstretched hand. As such, the radius or radial bone is the most frequently and commonly broken bone in the arm.
Moreover, there are certain conditions and situations that make one more susceptible to breaking a wrist. Among these are having osteoporosis, which makes the bones thinner and more fragile. Another is participating in sports such as snowboarding or in-line skating. In this article, Orthopaedic Surgery Associates, your trusted team of Boca Raton orthopedics and sports medicine professionals, explain everything else you need to know about broken wrists.
What Causes Wrist Fractures?
Wrist injuries, particularly wrist fractures, are often caused by:
- Falls. When you use your hand to break a fall and you fall with all your weight onto your outstretched arm, it can result in a broken wrist.
- Vehicular accidents. Motor vehicle accidents are among the most common causes of injuries, including wrist fractures. Serious accidents can actually cause bones to break into pieces.
- Sports injuries. Contact sports and other similar activities that can make you likely to fall onto your outstretched hand, such as snowboarding and skating, can also cause wrist fractures.
In general, broken wrist injuries are classified as any of the following:
A fracture that extends into the wrist joint. (“Articular” means “joint.”)
A fracture that does not extend into the joint is called an extra-articular fracture.
When a fractured bone breaks the skin, it is called an open fracture. These types of fractures require immediate medical attention because of the risk for infection.
When a bone is broken into more than two pieces, it is called a comminuted fracture.
“Is My Wrist Broken or Sprained” — What Constitutes a Broken Wrist?
If you recently got into an accident and you think your wrist got injured, you will likely wonder whether you have a broken or sprained wrist. Before we continue discussing more about wrist fracture, let us distinguish it from a sprain first. Basically, a fracture is a broken bone. On the other hand, sprains occur when the fibrous bands of tissue connecting the bones with each other called ligaments are torn or stretched.
Fracture vs. Sprain: The Pain Doesn’t Always Reveal Which is Which
Many people assume that a fracture is more painful than a sprain. Unfortunately, this may keep a patient from seeking immediate and proper care for their condition. Sometimes, a fracture can cause dull or mild pain, while a sprain can cause severe pain. As such, the level of pain is not a very accurate indicator of whether your wrist is broken or sprained. Because of this, it is important to check the symptoms to rule out either injury.
What are the Symptoms of a Broken Wrist?
Aside from pain, there are a few other symptoms that can help detect and differentiate a wrist fracture from a sprain, including the following:
- Deformity of the wrist
- Part of the bone protruding through the skin
- Weakness (inability to firmly hold or pick up objects)
If you’ve been in an accident or incident that makes you believe you might have a wrist fracture and you feel any of the symptoms above, it’s best that you see professional orthopedics in Boca Raton immediately. They will perform a thorough evaluation of your condition and require tests such as an x-ray.
So you’ve broken your wrist…What now?
If you think you might have broken your wrist, it’s important that you do not delay seeing an orthopedic doctor. A delayed diagnosis can make it longer and harder for your wrist to recover. Poor healing may also lead to a decreased range of motion and grip strength. When the right doctor evaluates your condition properly and thoroughly, they will be able to recommend the best course of treatment. Depending on the severity of the fracture, they may require a hand surgery in Boca Raton & Boynton Beach.
Other Frequently Asked Questions About Broken Wrists or Wrist Fractures
How is a wrist fracture diagnosed?
Aside from checking for the symptoms listed above, the orthopedic doctor or surgeon will require that you undergo an x-ray. In some cases, they may also ask for a CT scan or MRI scan.
Can you move a broken wrist?
Often, a wrist fracture may make it hard and painful to move your hand. However, some people who are unaware that they broke their wrist can still move their hand or wrist. Unfortunately, they may mistakenly believe that since they can still move their wrist, it’s not broken. This is why it’s necessary to see a doctor right away after getting into an accident such as a fall.
How is a wrist fracture treated?
There are various treatment options for fractures, including wrist fractures. The orthopedic doctor will only be able to devise a treatment plan for you after they’ve checked your condition and evaluated your test results. In general, below are the treatments typically used to treat a broken wrist:
- Medication – Your doctor will prescribe the appropriate pain reliever to help you deal with the pain. If a bone breaks out of the skin or you were wounded, antibiotics may also be prescribed.
- Immobilization – Restricting movement of the broken wrist by using a cast or splint will aid in proper and faster healing.
- Hand surgery – It’s also possible that you’ll need to undergo surgery for implanting fixation devices, such as plates, rods, pins, or screws. Furthermore, your bones might move while you’re wearing a cast or splint. If this happens, your doctor may perform a surgery as well.
- Therapy – To help restore movement and reduce stiffness, you will likely need rehabilitation therapy and exercises until your wrist is completely healed.
Get Timely and Proper Diagnosis and Treatment for Your Hand Injury
Even if you’re unsure whether you broke your wrist after a fall or accident or not, it’s vital that you seek timely and proper diagnosis. Our physicians at Orthopaedic Surgery Associates are fully trained, experienced, and equipped to diagnose any condition or injury, including the most common hand and wrist conditions.
We also have hand specialists, including Dr. Brandon Luskin, our on-site orthopedic hand surgeon, who also specializes in the treatment of orthopedic wrist injuries in Boynton Beach and Boca Raton.
To get high-quality orthopedic services, you can schedule an appointment online. You may also call us at (561) 734-5080 to learn more about our services.
The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.