Wrist Fractures

What are wrist fractures?

The wrist is made up of the 2 forearm bones, the radius and ulna, with the eight bones of the wrist or carpal bones. The most common fractures occur at the end of the radius, Colles fracture or Distal Radius Fracture, or within the most important carpal bone, the Scaphoid.

What causes wrist fractures?

The primary cause of wrist fractures is a fall onto the outstretched wrist. It is natural for you to stretch out your arm to try and catch yourself as you fall, but your bones are not designed to withstand this kind of pressure, so the radius and scaphoid is prone to snap when this happens. Colles (link to Colles article)fractures can also occur with far less force, in those who suffer from osteoporosis, and have substantially weakened bones. Scaphoid (link to scaphoid article)fractures can occur with the wrist bent beyond its normal arc of motion.

What are symptoms of wrist fractures?

Symptoms of wrist fractures are pain, swelling, bruising and deformity. Numbness in the fingers is also possible if there has been internal bleeding along the nerves of the hand.

How to diagnose wrist fractures

Although a physical examination will expose the pain and general area of the fracture, an X-ray is necessary in order to determine what type of fracture you have suffered. If a fracture is not seen initially, it als may show up later within the first 2 weeks.  An MRI may also be required if the doctor suspects additional ligament damage to the joint as a result of the trauma or to see if there is evidence of a bone injury not showing up on X-rays..

Non-surgical treatment of wrist fractures:

If the fracture is non-displaced, which is to say that it is simply a crack, without the bone having moved or shifted, then it is normal to simply place the arm in a cast, and the bone should knit itself together properly. If the doctor is able to bring a displaced fracture back together in such a way that the pieces fit snugly, it may also be possible to cast. In this case (or in that of surgery) the expected healing time for this type of fracture is a bout 6 weeks for a Colles fracture. The scaphoid, however, has a poor blood supply and may take 3 months or in some case, may not heal..

Surgical treatment of wrist fractures:

If the two parts of the bone have shifted or shattered in such a way that they cannot be joined cleanly, a cast will not suffice, and surgery will be necessary. This surgery will consist of the doctor reforming the ends of the bone so that they will sit together flush, at which point the doctor may need to employ pins and/or screws and plates to keep the bone in position as it heals. If the doctor suspects that the fracture may extend into the joint itself, it will be necessary to get a CT scan of the wrist, to determine whether or not, further surgery is necessary, as the joint must perfectly aligned to minimize the chance of traumatic arthritis.

How can Dr. Knight help you with wrist fractures?

Over his years in practice, Dr. Knight has gained much experience treating traumatic wrist injuries, and has returned some of the most horrific wrist injuries to functional, pain-free use.

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