A wrist fracture, also known as a broken wrist, is an injury involving the break or fracture of one or more of the bones in the wrist. The wrist is composed of multiple small bones called carpal bones that form a complex joint with the bones of the forearm (radius and ulna) and the hand (metacarpals and phalanges). Fractures in the wrist can occur due to various reasons, including falls onto an outstretched hand, direct trauma, sports injuries, and car accidents.
Wrist fractures can vary in their severity, location, and complexity. Common types of wrist fractures include:
- Colles’ Fracture: This is a fracture of the distal radius, which is the larger of the two forearm bones, near the wrist joint. It often results from a fall onto an outstretched hand with the wrist extended.
- Smith’s Fracture: This is a fracture of the distal radius near the wrist joint, but with the wrist flexed. It typically occurs due to a fall onto the back of the hand.
- Scaphoid Fracture: The scaphoid is a small bone located on the thumb side of the wrist. Fractures of the scaphoid are common and can be challenging to diagnose because symptoms might be subtle.
- Triquetral Fracture: This involves a fracture of the triquetral bone, which is one of the carpal bones on the ulnar (pinky side) of the wrist.
- Distal Ulna Fracture: The ulna is the other forearm bone, and a fracture at the far end of the ulna is known as a distal ulna fracture.
Symptoms of a wrist fracture can include pain, swelling, tenderness, bruising, deformity, and difficulty moving the wrist. In some cases, the fractured bone ends might be visibly displaced or misaligned.
Diagnosis of a wrist fracture involves a physical examination, assessment of medical history, and imaging tests such as X-rays to determine the type and location of the fracture. Treatment for wrist fractures depends on factors such as the specific bone involved, the type of fracture, and the degree of displacement. Treatment options include:
- Immobilization: Applying a cast or splint to stabilize the wrist and allow the bones to heal.
- Closed Reduction: If the bones are displaced, a doctor may perform a closed reduction, manually realigning the bone fragments before immobilizing them.
- Surgery: For more complex fractures or fractures that can’t be adequately treated with conservative methods, surgical intervention might be necessary. Surgery can involve the use of pins, screws, plates, or wires to stabilize the bones.
- Pain Management: Medications may be prescribed to manage pain and discomfort.
- Rehabilitation: After the initial healing period, physical therapy exercises are often recommended to regain wrist strength, flexibility, and function.
Proper medical evaluation and treatment are essential for optimal healing and to prevent potential complications that might arise from improper healing or alignment of the fractured bones.