The wrist is made up of the two bones of the forearm, the radius and ulna, and the eight carpal bones. There are many ligaments and muscles that attach to the bones. A wrist fracture is a break or crack in one or more of these bones. The most common cause of a fracture is a fall on an outstretched hand. Signs and symptoms of a wrist injury include:
- limited ability to move the joint
If you suspect that you have broken or severely injured your wrist, the following first aid measures can be followed:
- If there is an obvious deformity, lay your hand and wrist across a soft pillow and seek medical attention immediately.
- Take an over-the-counter pain reliever to help with the pain.
- Apply ice to the area but not directly to the skin. A bag of frozen vegetables with a towel wrapped around it works great.
Medical Treatment of Wrist Injuries
When you receive treatment, the first thing that will be done is an x-ray to rule out a fracture. If there is no fracture, but there is significant pain and immobility, the doctor may suspect an occult or hidden fracture where there is a small fracture that doesn't show up on the x-ray. If there is tenderness in the region called the anatomical snuffbox, there may be a fracture to the scaphoid bone.
Frequently, wrist fractures can be treated in a cast, however, sometimes the bones need to be set first. This is performed with light sedation or local anesthesia, and the doctor will perform specific maneuvers to realign the bones. In some cases, surgery is required to repair the break.
Once the wrist fracture is repaired, care should be taken not to re-injure it. Follow your doctor's instructions on care and make all scheduled appointments.
Contact us if you have questions regarding a wrist fracture or injury.