Hand & Wrist Fractures
What is a fracture?
A fracture occurs when a force is applied to the bone that exceeds the strength of the bone. A classic example is when someone falls and lands on an outstretched hand or wrist. The force from the fall in combination with the angle of the wrist may be enough to cause a fracture or break in the bone.
Fractures can be placed into two general categories: displaced or nondisplaced. In a nondisplaced fracture the bone is broken but has not shifted or moved out of position. In a displaced fracture, the bone has shifted significantly and the fractured ends of the bone are no longer in proper alignment. Your treatment options will depend on the location and category of the fracture.
What causes a fracture in your hand or wrist?
Fractures typically occur because some type of trauma puts force or impact on a bone and it breaks. A classic example is when someone falls and lands on an outstretched hand or wrist. The force from the fall in combination with the angle of the wrist may be sufficient to cause a fracture or break in the bone. More than one million fractures occur every year in the United States.
Some of the most common causes:
- Sports injuries
- Car accidents
Disease can also be a cause:
- Osteoporosis (bone weakening due to aging)
What symptoms should I be aware of?
Symptoms of a wrist fracture may include pain in the wrist, tenderness, swelling in the wrist and/or hand, bruising, and occasionally a visible deformity. A significantly displaced fracture will result in severe pain and may cause numbness in the hand due to swelling. These symptoms can vary greatly.
How do I know if my wrist or hand is broken?
Many fractures can be diagnosed through X-ray and a complete physical exam. In specific situations, your specialist may wish to get an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) or a CT (computed tomography) scan.
What are my treatment options?
A bone fracture is typically immobilized in order to correct bone alignment and prevent use of the bone while it heals.
Your custom treatment plan may include:
- Cast and/or splint
- Pain medications
- Anti-inflammatory medications
- Physical therapy
How long will it take my fracture to heal?
It depends. Your healing process is as individual as you are. Much depends on the type and location of the fracture, your age, health, and general physical well-being. The average healing process for a broken bone is anywhere from six to eight weeks. It may be slightly longer if surgery is required. At Summit, our primary goal is to make sure your bones heal properly so you can get back to your everyday active life as quickly as possible without any future symptoms or loss of function.
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