Wrist Fracture

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Last Medical Review: March 28, 2020
Medically Reviewed by Dr. David Costa Navarro
Distal Radius Fracture or Broken Wrist (March 28, 2020)
Broken wrist (March 28, 2020)

If you break the wrist, it is usually the beam of the forearm that is broken, just above the wrist, so-called radius fracture. The other leg of the forearm, the elbow bone, usually remains undamaged. Breaking the wrist can be more or less serious. It can be anything from a small crack in the jet leg to a crush injury, or both wrist breaks off.

Wrist fractures are most common in the elderly who fall and receive themselves with the hand, but also occur among young athletes such as snowboarders and skateboarders. In children, the damage can occur if, for example, they fall from a ladder or a tree.


If you have broken the wrist it is often quite good to move your fingers, while movements in the wrist hurt very much. The wrist is swollen and you are in pain.

The problems can vary greatly depending on the size of the injury. Sometimes a wrist fracture can only mean a crack in the jet leg and you can think it is just a stretch. This type of wrist fracture can heal well without treatment.

When and where should I seek care?

You should immediately contact your nearest health care center or hospital if your wrist is swollen and you have a lot of pain after falling and receiving your hand. It is important that you have your wrist examined to see if it is broken.

The sooner the injury is treated, the better. But if the injury occurs in the middle of the night or far from the hospital, you can wait a few hours to seek care without risk.


The wrist is examined in two different ways. First, the doctor does an examination and assesses swelling, pain and tenderness as well as the fingers’ mobility, sensation and blood circulation.

An X-ray examination of the wrist is then performed to determine the injury and the malfunction that exists.


The treatment of a wrist fracture is governed by how wrong the crime is.

If there is only one crack there is no fault, or the fault is insignificant. For the most part, it is sufficient that you get a plaster rail to give the crime and joint a certain statute and relieve the pain for a week.

Plaster has a better analgesic effect than just an elastic bandage. Within two to four weeks, such benign wrist fractures tend to be healed and the wrist will soon be back to normal.

Most often, the forearm must be plastered

For the most part, there is a clear fault in the skeleton. Then the bone fracture must be rectified. It occurs after the doctor either anesthetized the entire arm or injected local anesthesia around the wrist to relieve the pain. The leg fracture is rectified by pulling the arm out and pressing the fracture in place. It is then held in place with a plaster rail over the forearm and hand. But the fingers are free and should be able to move. The wrist is then x-rayed again, with the plaster on, to check that the broken leg is in a good position.

Four weeks of plaster treatment is often sufficient to stabilize the damage. The location of the crime is controlled during the time the wrist is plastered. There is a risk that the situation will deteriorate, despite the plaster treatment. For the most part, the broken wrist is x-rayed and checked about ten days after the injury.

It is important to hold your hand high during the first week and to touch your fingers, elbow and shoulder. This reduces the risk of swelling and stiffness. It is good to use the arm and hand for easier everyday activities. But you should avoid heavier loads like carrying groceries and lifting frying pans for a couple of weeks.

Sometimes surgery is required

When you have a more difficult position, plaster treatment is not enough. Then some kind of surgery must be done. There are several different ways to operate wrist fractures. One way is that the doctor fixes the fracture and then puts thin metal sticks inside the bone to keep the bone pieces in position. Then this so-called fixation is supplemented with a drywall for usually four weeks.

Another method is that the doctor fixes the fracture with an outer frame on the outside of the skin, so-called external fixation. This means that two threaded pins are screwed into the beam bone above the fracture and that two other pins are screwed into the hand. The two pairs of sticks are then connected to metal bars that sit on the skin and which are locked. The advantage of this technique is that the fracture itself does not need to be opened, that you do not have plaster and that the bone fragments are fixed more firmly. The disadvantage is that the outer frame is bulky and can be practically troublesome. The outer frame is usually left for four to six weeks. If you have a severe injury, it may need to sit even longer.

An operating method that is more commonly used is that the doctor fixes the fracture with a metal plate that is placed closest to the leg, under the soft parts and the skin. The operation scar usually appears on the underside of the wrist. The metal plate, which is small and thin, fixes the fracture by means of screws that are mounted on both sides of the fracture. The plate is almost always left after the bone has healed.

In some particularly fragmented and severe offenses, a combination of the methods described above is sometimes used.

It is very important that you keep your arm and hand high during the first few weeks, no matter how the crime has been dealt with. You should also touch your fingers, elbow and shoulder several times a day to reduce the swelling and stiffness that always follows. Failure to do so will cause long-term problems with stiffness and pain, even after the fracture has healed and the plaster or external fixation removed.

After healing comes training

When the wrist is healing well and the fracture is stable, the plaster, metal pins or outer frame are removed. Then the hand is often very stiff and it hurts to touch the wrist. Often it is still swollen. In this situation you need to exercise the injured wrist and it is important that you exercise all the movements that the wrist has normally. The swelling must be worked away and the strength must be trained.

You usually get training and attitude instructions. If needed, you can get help with this from a occupational therapist or a physical therapist, also known as a physiotherapist. It may also be a good idea to talk to a occupational therapist if you feel you need help in everyday life. Sometimes it can be good to use an elastic wrist rest.

You should exercise regularly for quite a long time. You can do most of the training on your own. Generally, it takes several months before the wrist feels as usual again. What stays the longest is a feeling of weakness in the hand, but it always improves with time.

Contact the doctor if the problems remain

You should contact a doctor if it hurts or if you are stiff in the wrist, or if your fingers do not function properly even months after the fracture has healed.

For example, you may receive treatment in the form of exercise and supportive bandages. You can sometimes also be operated on if the leg position needs to be corrected, a nerve is relieved, the tendon function is restored or a ligament repaired.

What happens in the body?

Wrist fracture is the most common bone fracture treated in health care. Every year, almost 25,000 American break their wrist. Most often, you break the wrist when you fall and receive with your outstretched hand while the lower part of the radius, radius, is broken by a few inches above the wrist.

The forearm also contains the elbow bone, ulna, but it often remains undamaged.

Injury is particularly common in slippery road surfaces, especially in icy ice during the winter. Wrist fractures, distal radius fracture, most often occur in cases outdoors, while, for example, femoral neck fractures most often occur when falling indoors.

Wrist fractures occur at all ages and in many types of cases and accidents, but this is by far the most common in older people who fall. Younger people can also break the wrist, for example when they are sports, especially in connection with speed sports such as ice skating, snowboarding, skateboarding or inline skating. The crime can occur even in younger cases such as ladders and trees.

Wrist fractures can look quite different from one another, and the term actually involves many different types of injuries, from a lightly treated simple crack to a complicated wrist injury. It can also include different types of ligament damage. The different types require different types of treatment.

Older people often break their wrist

Wrist fractures are most common among people who have skeletal skeletons. Perhaps it is therefore usually the elderly who break the wrist.

It is also common for people with poor balance to break their wrist. Wrist fractures usually occur when you lose the balance and receive with your hand. If you have a poorer ability to stop the case with your hand, you can instead fall handlessly on the hip and get a bone fracture there instead. So it can be with very old people.

How can I prevent wrist fractures?

You can partially prevent wrist fractures. You can try to reduce the risk of slipping over in wintertime, for example by using shoes or stitches that are made to get a better foothold when slipping. An anti-slip stick can increase safety if you have poor balance. There are also special wrist guards that you can buy in sports stores. In some cases, they are considered to be able to reduce the risk of wrist fractures, such as skating or inline skating.

Exercise and good nutrition can result in stronger skeletons

You can also try to prevent bone fractures by keeping your skeleton strong throughout your life. If you exercise regularly you lay a good foundation for a good skeleton. Smoking can lead to impaired bone structure, as well as poor eating habits and alcoholism.

The structure of the skeleton requires, among other things, calcium and vitamin D. A normal diet containing vegetables and dairy products provides enough calcium. Vitamin D is naturally formed in the skin when out in daylight.

By moving and using the legs, children build the skeleton. If you are older, you can improve your muscle function and balance by moving yourself for a while each day, for example with a walk or some other physical activity. However, smoking and high alcohol consumption increase the risk of skeletal skeleton.

Medicines can help sometimes

If there are signs that you are suffering from osteoporosis, especially if you are a woman and have passed through menopause, further investigation with bone density measurement may be justified. Osteoporosis affects the entire skeleton and the investigation may be the basis for, among other things, a drug treatment that prevents deterioration.

Some can have lasting problems

The fracture of the wrist not only means that the beam bone goes off but also that parts of the bone are torn apart. Therefore, the wrist may look a little crooked even though the crime is healed. A wrist that is still crooked after the crime has healed need not cause any major inconvenience.

Some people may have easier or harder lasting problems after a wrist fracture. A fault that remains can help to make it hurt and feel stiff. Most often it involves bone fractures that have been particularly wrong or fragmented from the beginning and which have gone into the joint itself. One of the major nerves to the hand can suffer a pressure injury with numbness and pain as a result. Damage to the tendons, especially to the thumb, can also occur after a wrist fracture.

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