Wrist Fractured: Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

Article featured on the American Society for Surgery of the Hand

A wrist fracture is a medical term for a broken wrist. The wrist is made up of eight small bones which connect with the two long forearm bones called the radius and ulna. Although a broken wrist can happen in any of these 10 bones, by far the most common bone to break is the radius. This is called a distal radius fracture by hand surgeons.

Some wrist fractures are stable. “Non-displaced” breaks, in which the bones do not move out of place initially, can be stable. Some “displaced” breaks (which need to be put back into the right place, called “reduction” or “setting”) also can be stable enough to treat in a cast or splint. Other fractures are unstable. In unstable fractures, even if the bones are put back into position and a cast is placed, the bone pieces tend to move or shift into a bad position before they solidly heal. This can make the wrist appear crooked.

Some fractures are more severe than others. Fractures that break apart the smooth joint surface or fractures that shatter into many pieces (comminuted fractures) may make the bone unstable. These severe types of fractures often require surgery to restore and hold their alignment. An open fracture occurs when a fragment of bone breaks and is forced out through the skin. This can cause an increased risk of infection in the bone.

Causes

A wrist fracture occurs from an injury such as falling down onto an outstretched hand. Severe trauma such as car accidents, motorcycle accidents or falls from a ladder cause more severe injuries. Weak bones (for example, in osteoporosis) tend to break more easily.

Signs and Symptoms

When the wrist is broken, there is pain and swelling. It can be hard to move or use the hand and wrist. Some people can still move or use the hand or wrist even if there is a broken bone. Swelling or a bone out of place can make the wrist appear deformed. There is often pain right around the break and with finger movement. Sometimes the fingers tingle or feel numb at the tips.

Diagnosis

Your hand surgeon will do a physical examination and obtain x-rays to see if there is a broken bone. Sometimes, tests such as a CT scan or MRI scan may be needed to get better detail of the fracture fragments and other injuries. Ligaments (the soft tissues that hold the bones together), tendons, muscles and nerves may also be injured when the wrist is broken. These injuries may need to be treated also.

Treatment

Treatment depends on many factors, including:

  • Type of fracture, whether it is displaced, unstable or open
  • Your age, job, hobbies, activity level, and whether it is your “dominant” hand
  • Your overall general health
  • Presence of other injuries

A padded splint might be worn at first in order to align the bones and support the wrist to provide some relief from the initial pain. If the fracture is not too unstable, a cast may be used to hold a fracture that has been set. Other fractures may benefit from surgery to put the broken bones back together and hold them in correct place.

Fractures may be fixed with many devices. Pins, screws, plates, rods or external fixation can all be used. A small camera might be used to help visualize the joint from the inside. Sometimes the bone is so severely crushed that there is a gap in the bone once it has been realigned. In these cases, a bone graft may be added to help the healing process. Your hand surgeon will discuss the options that are best for your healing and recovery.

Recovery

During recovery, it is very important to keep your fingers moving to keep them from getting stiff. Your hand surgeon will have you start moving your wrist at the right time for your fracture. Hand therapy is often helpful to recover motion, strength and function.

Recovery time varies and depends on a lot of factors. It is not unusual for recovery to take months. Even then, some patients may have stiffness or aching. Severe wrist fractures can result in arthritis in the joint. Occasionally, additional treatment or surgery is needed.


The Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Center of Oregon is an award-winning, board-certified orthopedic group located in downtown Portland Oregon. We utilize both surgical and nonsurgical means to treat musculoskeletal trauma, spine diseases, sports injuries, degenerative diseases, infections, tumors and congenital disorders.

Our mission is to return our patients back to pain-free mobility and full strength as quickly and painlessly as possible using both surgical and non-surgical orthopedic procedures.

Our expert physicians provide leading-edge, comprehensive care in the diagnosis and treatment of orthopedic conditions, including total joint replacement and sports medicine. We apply the latest state-of-the-art techniques in order to return our patients to their active lifestyle.

If you’re looking for compassionate, expert orthopedic surgeons in Portland Oregon, contact OSM today.

Phone:
503-224-8399

Address
1515 NW 18th Ave, 3rd Floor
Portland, OR 97209

Hours
Monday–Friday
8:00am – 4:30pm

What to Do for Hand and Wrist Pain

Article featured on verywellfit,   

Office work is well known for being detrimental to people’s backs due to prolonged periods of sitting.

But, there’s another body part that excessive typing, texting, scrolling, and mouse-clicking wreak havoc on, too—the hands and wrists.

Hand and wrist pain is a notable side effect of office work that many people assume they have to live with. Thankfully, there are actually numerous ways to lessen office-work-induced hand and wrist pain, and ways to help prevent it.

Let’s look at why hand and wrist pain are so prevalent and what you can do about it.

Common Causes And Effects of Hand And Wrist Pain

There is an abundance of hand movement repetition in the tasks for office work, with the main activities performed being typing, scrolling or clicking with a mouse, and texting on a cell phone.

When we type, we use our fingers in an unnatural way, and we often keep them hovered awkwardly above the keyboard for prolonged periods of time. This puts stress on our wrists, and the typing itself overworks our fingers far more than anything else we generally do in life.

When we overuse our hands and wrists by typing, our bodies are put at risk of developing numerous conditions. These include:

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Trigger finger
  • Wrist tendonitis
  • Repetitive strain (or stress) injury

These effects are usually not permanent, but they can be very painful. Once you have frequent hand and wrist pain from typing, other activities in your life, such as exercise or sports, or even opening doors, might also be affected.

Additionally, the prolonged inflammation in your hands and wrists can lead to arthritis in coming years.

Ways to Reduce Hand and Wrist Pain

In addition to life being better when you’re not in pain, it’s important to take steps to prevent that potential occurrence too. Luckily, there are numerous actions you can take to prevent your hand and wrist pain from worsening.

Pausing to stretch your hands and wrists can help bring back flexibility and can improve the blood flow that may be impacted by a lack of arm movement.

If you notice that stretching your hands and wrists reduces your pain, you may opt to stretch briefly every hour or two. In the same way as it’s a good idea to get up and stand every hour to break up your sitting, it’s a good idea to keep your hands and wrists flexible as you use them throughout the day.

Wrist Stretching

Stretching your wrists is an easy way to reduce the pain in them caused by typing. Some examples of wrist stretches you can try are below:

  • Raise and lower your hands in a “stop” position with your arms outstretched in front of you.
  • Make and hold a fist.
  • Rotate your hand up and down while making a fist.

Hand and Finger Stretching

Stretching our hands and fingers isn’t something we tend to think a lot about unless we’re doing a sport that involves gripping, but it can be very helpful in reducing the pain from typing and texting all day.

Here are some ways to stretch your hands and fingers:

  • Straighten your fingers and palms flat against a surface and hold this position for thirty seconds.
  • Bend your fingertips down to make a bear claw shape and hold for 30 seconds.
  • Straighten your fingers and palm on a surface and slowly lift and lower each finger and thumb individually.
It can also be helpful to use a grip strengthener. To use one for hand stretching, you’ll hold it in your hands, squeeze, hold briefly, and release. This act of squeezing and relaxing helps to loosen the muscles. Grips strengtheners can also be used to reduce tension.

Strengthening Exercises

You don’t need a whole workout for your hands and wrists, but taking the time to strengthen this part of your body can have the effect of less pain due to overuse. You don’t need any gym equipment for these exercises.

Use Household Items

There are numerous household items that can be used to help strengthen your hands and wrists such as:

  • Rubber bands
  • Towels
  • A hammer

Exercises using those items can be done in just a few short minutes and are very simple, such as putting a rubber band around your fingers and then pushing your fingers out against it.

Wrist Curls

Unlike the small and simple moves with household items, wrist curls are a more common move for actual exercise workouts.

They can be beneficial to your hands and wrists as well as your forearms, which is the part they’re best known for strengthening.

The goal for this exercise isn’t to get sore, as it might be for some people when they use weights, but too slowly and gradually build strength so that your hands and wrists are in the best possible condition for the daily activities they perform.

Home Remedies For Pain

There are many inexpensive and easy ways to manage pain by reducing inflammation. You could take an over-the-counter pain reducer, which serves to temporarily lower inflammation, or try one of the following remedies below.

Heat and Cold

Alternating between hot and cold treatments through the use of a heating pad and an ice pack can lower inflammation while also providing temporary relief from pain. In the same way that you’d use heat and cold to relieve a sports injury, you can do the same for hand and wrist pain caused by overuse.

Turmeric

This Ayurvedic root is well proven to relieve pain and inflammation. It has been used for millennia and is an incredibly effective natural pain reliever.

With a bright golden color and a mild flavor, you can use ground turmeric in your meals, drink shots of the fresh juice, or make it into a tea.

Ginger

Also an Ayurvedic root used for many generations as a pain and inflammation reducer, ginger has been proven effective for relieving symptoms of arthritis.

Similarly to turmeric, you can use ginger as a dried spice in your cooking, make a tea from the root or powder, or drink fresh juice shots.

Reduce Systemic Inflammation With Everyday Activities

When you make efforts to reduce inflammation, it won’t only be your hands and wrists that will thank you.

Reducing systemic inflammation improves health overall and helps lower your risk for an assortment of illnesses.

There are many ways to go about reducing inflammation on a daily basis. Some you can try include yoga, eating fewer inflammatory foods, managing stress, and getting a sufficient amount of sleep.

How to Prevent Hand and Wrist Pain

Now that you know of ways to reduce the wrist and hand pain you may already have, it’s helpful to know how to keep it gone once you get rid of it.

In addition to taking steps to lower inflammation in your body, and stretching and strengthening your wrists, proper positioning when typing and the use of wrist and hand supports can lower the chances of your pain returning.

Positioning

When sitting to type, start by making sure you’re using a supportive chair that allows for good posture. Having your back straight will assist with the positioning of your arms and wrists. You’ll want to keep your hands hovered lightly over the keyboard, not resting on it, and your fingers curved over the keys.

If you aren’t able to find a comfortable position, you can try a keyboard with a different shape than the one you currently use.

Cushioning

In addition to choosing a keyboard that feels comfortable for your hands, you may find extra comfort in a mouse cushion and a keyboard cushion.

Though a mouse cushion can be used while you are actively using your mouse, a keyboard cushion should only be used when you are paused on typing. That’s because if you use it while you’re typing, you’ll be pushing your wrists up at a sharp angle.

Utilize a keyboard cushion while scrolling with your mouse, taking a brief break in typing, or reading.

Wrist Support Products

There are several types of products that provide support to your hands and wrists. In order to find one that allows you enough mobility while simultaneously providing sufficient support, you may need to try a few on.

Support options for hands and wrists include stabilizers, wraps, and braces.

Your wrists and hands may be in pain, but they don’t have to be! Try one or more of these suggestions to keep yourself pain free, no matter how much you type.


The Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Center of Oregon is an award-winning, board-certified orthopedic group located in downtown Portland Oregon. We utilize both surgical and nonsurgical means to treat musculoskeletal trauma, spine diseases, sports injuries, degenerative diseases, infections, tumors and congenital disorders.

Our mission is to return our patients back to pain-free mobility and full strength as quickly and painlessly as possible using both surgical and non-surgical orthopedic procedures.

Our expert physicians provide leading-edge, comprehensive care in the diagnosis and treatment of orthopedic conditions, including total joint replacement and sports medicine. We apply the latest state-of-the-art techniques in order to return our patients to their active lifestyle.

If you’re looking for compassionate, expert orthopedic surgeons in Portland Oregon, contact OSM today.

Phone:
503-224-8399

Address
1515 NW 18th Ave, 3rd Floor
Portland, OR 97209

Hours
Monday–Friday
8:00am – 4:30pm

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Having painful arthritis in your wrist can make it hard to do many everyday activities. Although there is no cure for arthritis, there are several treatment options available to help relieve your painful symptoms and stay active.

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