WRIST FRACTURES

Wrist is a joint, consisting of two forearm bones (radius and ulna) and eight little other bones, capable of rotating, twisting upwards and downwards, as well as lateral flexion motions. In young people, fractures can be observed not only in case of serious injuries, such as falling down on the wrist or a car accident, but also in simpler traumas if the subject has osteoporosis. The fractures are generally observed at the distal end of radius.

What are the symptoms?

Contrary to assumption, the symptoms of wrist fractures are no different than those of spraining. The most observed symptoms are swellings on the wrist and pain, sometimes due to movement. In radius fractures, deformities resembling a fork’s back face can be observed in the wrist. This deformity doesn’t occur in little bone fractures.

What to do in case of suspected fracture?

The wrist should be supported from below with a card board or a rigid piece of wood and kept immobilized. After lessening the swelling by applying ice on the swollen area, the injured person should be taken to the closest hospital.

How is fracture diagnosed?

Upon examination, it can be diagnosed by taking x-ray from at least two different directions. Computed tomography can be taken in order to see further details of little fractured parts. Magnetic resonance imaging generally provides more information about ligaments and tendons around the joint.

How is it treated?

The main factor for determining the correct treatment is assessing whether the fractured has dislocated or not, as well as whether the fracture is split or not. The patient’s age, health condition, occupation and whether or not he has arthritis are also important factors for determining the treatment.

Casting is possible for treatment for fractures that aren’t dislocated or split. But for dislocated or split fractures, surgery is usually required. Internal or external fixation can be applied for surgery. For external fixation, bridge-like platinum can be placed between the hand and the forearm. Nails can also be used to attach the fractured parts. Plaques can be used for internal fixation. Occasionally, wrist arthroscopy might also be used during treatment. The type of fixation (surgery) method will be determined by your doctor. Sometimes, if there is a space between the fracture ends, bone injection (grafting) might be necessary. This injection is usually applied by taking bone from any part of your body, but usually from your pelvis.

After the operation, while the fracture is being healed, moving your fingers can help to lessen the edema of the hand and aid the physiotherapy, which will be administered later on. For this reason, fingers should be spread apart and curled as much as possible. When healing starts, wrist can also be moved. Your doctor will determine when you can start moving your wrist. Fusion process takes up 4-8 weeks. Because wrist fractures are intra-joint fractures, in some patients, movement limitations, bone calcification and occasional pain in the fractured area might be observed.