What are Wrist Fractures?
A wrist fracture occurs when a person has broken one of the small bones in the wrist joint or the distal radius, which is the larger bone of the two that make up the forearm. A fracture also includes a crack in one of the wrist bones. These fractures are commonly caused by:
- Falls: usually occur when a person stretches out their hand before impact.
- Sports injuries: many wrist fractures occur during sports where falls typically occur or contact sports, such as football or soccer, rugby, horseback riding, hockey, snowboarding, skiing, and in-line skating.
- Car accidents: during a vehicle crash, many people stretch out their arms before impact which, like falls, encourages the wrist bones to break.
Symptoms of a Broken Wrist
A wrist fracture isn’t always obvious, but there are signs and symptoms of a fracture that indicate seeking medical attention:
- An obvious deformity, such as a bent wrist
- Bruising in the wrist
- Swelling in the wrist
- Severe pain that worsens when gripping, squeezing, or moving your hands or wrist.
If any of these symptoms are present, it’s important to seek a medical professional and be examined. Also, if there is difficulty moving your fingers or numbness, it’s imperative to seek medical care as soon as possible. Delayed treatment can result in a decrease in your range of motion and reduce the strength of your grip.
Types of Wrist Breaks
There are two primary types of wrist fractures:
- Distal Radius Fracture: the wrist is made up of two bones from the forearm, the radius, and the ulna with the former being the larger of the two. A distal radius fracture occurs when there is a break near the wrist end of the radius bone. Sometimes the ulna bone is broken along with the radius, which is known as a distal ulna fracture.
- Scaphoid Fracture: The scaphoid is one of the carpal bones which form two rows of small round bones in the wrist and are located near the base of the thumb. This particular fracture of the wrist is the second most common and can be difficult to both identify and treat.
There are other types of wrist fractures that are not as common as the two listed above:
- Radial Styloid Fracture: also known as Chauffer’s Fracture, this occurs when the radial styloid is fractured and is usually caused by a direct hit to the radius.
- A Barton’s Fracture: this is the distal radius fracture that includes dislocation of the wrist joint.
- Ulnar Styloid Fracture: When the styloid is fractured, usually occurs along with distal radius fractures.
Orthopedic Wrist Treatments
Along with the type of wrist fracture, there are several levels of severity that an orthopedic doctor will use as a basis of treatment:
- A displaced break: when a bone within the wrist has moved out of place, requiring proper realignment and likely surgery.
- A non-displaced break: A wrist break where the bone hasn’t moved out of its proper place.
- An open fracture: When a bone from the wrist is protruding through the skin, causing a risk of bone infection.
- Wrist shatter: the most severe type of break where one or more of the bones have shattered. This type of fracture requires surgery.
Whether the type of fracture you have requires surgery or not depends on the type of fracture and the severity of it, but treatment for wrist fractures almost always includes a splint or cast.
At Proliance Puget Sound Orthopaedics, we provide best-in-class orthopedic care to our community with compassion, caring, and dedicated expertise for fractures of the wrist.
If you’re suffering from any of the symptoms listed previously or need treatment for, we encourage you to call (253) 830 – 5200 or request an appointment online to see one of our physicians.