The wrist contains two forearm bones: the radius and the ulna. The most common fracture to the wrist occurs to the distal radius, the end of the larger of the two arm bones at the thumb-side of the wrist. Distal radius fractures usually happen about one inch from the end of the radius. It is prone to injury when you fall on an outstretched hand or if there you have low bone density or osteoporosis. The injury causes pain, swelling, and bruising and can create a deformed appearance to the wrist.
Stable fractures that don’t affect the joint alignment are treated without surgery. Initial treatment usually includes icing, elevating the arm, and anti-inflammatory medications to control pain and swelling. A splint may be used for 1 to 3 weeks to allow for swelling. After the swelling has subsided, the splint will be replaced by a fiberglass cast. The wrist is typically immobilized for as many as 6 weeks after the injury. A sling may be worn for comfort, but it is important to work on maintaining full range of motion of the elbow and shoulder to prevent stiffness. Regaining range of motion of the wrist and foream is the focus for the first few months, followed by strengthening.
For more serious fractures, surgery may be required to correct the alignment of the bone. Sometimes a cast alone can be used,
or it may be necessary to insert metal pins, a plate, and screws.