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Wrist Fracture Fixation

What are Wrist Fractures?

Wrist fractures are breaks in any of the bones that form your wrist joint. 

Anatomy of the Wrist

Your wrist is made up of 8 small bones present in your hand and the adjacent ends of the 2 long bones of the forearm. The most common sites of fracture in the wrist are at the radius (the large forearm bone) and the scaphoid (one of the small hand bones).

Causes of Wrist Fractures

Wrist fractures may be caused by:

  • Falling onto an outstretched hand
  • Motor vehicular accidents
  • A direct blow to the wrist

Symptoms of Wrist Fractures

Symptoms of wrist fractures may include:

  • Sudden, severe wrist pain
  • Swelling and deformity of the wrist
  • Loss of wrist motion
  • Numbness or altered sensation in the fingers

Diagnosis of Wrist Fractures

A diagnosis of a wrist fracture is based on:

  • Signs and symptoms at the site of injury
  • Physical examination of the wrist
  • Imaging studies such as X-rays

Wrist Fracture Fixation

Wrist fracture fixation may be performed by surgical or non-surgical methods depending on the severity of the fracture:

Nonsurgical Wrist Fracture Management

Immediate treatment for a wrist fracture will include splinting, icing the area, and rest to relieve pain minimize swelling. If the fractured ends of the bone are not displaced, application of a cast or splint may be enough to treat the wrist fracture. 

Surgical Wrist Fracture Fixation

When the fractured ends are significantly displaced, surgery is often necessary. The most common method of fixation is open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF) which involves the use of plates and screws to properly align the fractured ends and stabilize the fracture from the inside.

Recovery after Wrist Fracture Fixation

Recovery time varies from person to person, but the bone typically takes around 6-8 weeks to heal, except in the case of the scaphoid, which takes longer. In general, it will take a few months for complete functional recovery. Working with physical therapy and occupational therapy is very important to maximize strength and range of motion of your wrist.

Prognosis of Wrist Fracture Fixation

The prognosis is generally good with most people regaining good function of their wrists following treatment.

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