Friday, June 2, 2023

How Do You Know If Your Wrist Is Broken

The Signs Of A Wrist Fracture

How can you tell if your wrist is sprained or broken?

Fractures to the wrist can range in severity, and it may be difficult to tell if your wrist is broken or if it is injured in some other way. Here are five signs that your wrist may be broken:

  • The wrist may be swollen and painful.
  • You may have difficulty using your hand or your wrist, or not be able to use it at all.
  • The wrist looks deformed, or misshapen.
  • Moving your fingers is painful.
  • There is numbness or tingling in your fingers.
  • These signs may mean a fracture in your wrist, and medical attention should be sought, preferably from a specialist dealing in bone health.

    Sprained Wrist Vs Broken Wrist

    How do you determine a sprained wrist vs. a broken wrist? The fastest way to be sure is to get an X-ray image of the wrist to look for a fracture. If you or a loved one suffer a wrist injury and are experiencing pain, check for some of the following symptoms to determine whether the wrist is sprained or broken.

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    Signs Of A Wrist Sprain

    If you have a wrist sprain, you may be able to move the wrist in a range of motion. It may be painful, but you will still be able to do it.

    That usually means the bones are not broken, and you have a sprain.

    Another sign of a wrist sprain is that there are swelling and redness around the sprained area of the wrist.

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    How Does A Wrist Fracture Happen

    Virtually anyone can take a tumble and end up with a broken wrist, says Dr. Swigart, but the majority of the people she sees with the problem fall into one of two categories.

    The first group is elderly men and women who are vulnerable to wrist fracture because of low bone density. Because their bones are fragile, It doesnt take much of a fall to break the wrist, Dr. Swigart says.

    Patients in the second group, she says, tend to be younger and more active, with fractured wrists resulting from what Dr. Swigart calls higher energy mechanisms, such as a skiing mishap or getting hit while playing contact sports. The breaks those patients sustain tend to involve the wrist joint and are often more severe, Dr. Swigart says.

    Can You Still Move Your Wrist If It Is Fractured

    broken or sprained wrist

    Its common for people to think that if theyre able to move their wrist at all, it means their wrist is not broken. However, this isnt the case. Some people are able to move their wrists even when fractured.

    If you can move your wrist but have pain, swelling, and bruising, it might still be fractured.

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    Treatment For Wrist Sprain

    For mild sprains, the RICE protocol is very effective at relieving symptoms:

    • Rest Do not use your wrist for 48 hours. You may need a splint to help.
    • Ice Ice your wrist immediately after injury then for 20 minutes, 2-3 times per day. Never apply ice directly to your skin remember to wrap the ice in a clean cloth before using.
    • Compression Use a compression wrap or bandage to reduce swelling.
    • Elevation Elevate your arm as often as you can, keeping it above your heart level.

    In addition to following the RICE protocol, you may also consider using a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug like ibuprofen or naproxen to reduce swelling and pain. Your doctor may also recommend some stretching exercises to help you regain full mobility in your wrist. Furthermore, if your injury requires a splint, you can find these at your local drugstore. Keep in mind that a severe wrist sprain may require surgery.

    Signs And Symptoms Of A Wrist Fracture

    A wrist fracture is essentially the same thing as a broken wrist, and lets face it, if you break your wrist, its probably going to result in plenty of pain. Depending on the severity of the break, various treatments may be recommended, but how do you know if its a fracture and not just a sprain?

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    What Should You Do If You Think Your Wrist Is Broken

    If you think you may have a fractured wrist or are just not sure, see a medical professional immediately. Imaging, such as x-rays, can help determine if the wrist is fractured, and if so, how badly and where. If you see a General Practitioner, you may be referred to an Orthopedic specialist, like Celebration orthopedics, to determine severity and treatment options. Not seeking medical treatment should never be an option, as it can lead to long term pain, damage, and loss of movement or dexterity. When in doubt, speak to your doctor.

    Common Causes Of A Wrist Fracture

    How to tell if your wrist is broken or sprained

    Most people break their radius bone, which is one of the two main bones in the forearm that is connected to 8 smaller bones. Common causes of a wrist fracture or break include the following:

    • Attempting to stop a fall using your outstretched arm and hand
    • Falling off a bike or ladder
    • Car or motorcycle accident

    If your wrist is swollen and painful, it is best to consult with Carrollton Orthopaedic Clinic for a diagnosis. If you wait too long and simply ice it and keep it elevated, you could cause even more damage. Its better to have the appropriate tests completed to know what you are dealing with, as treatment will be very different for a broken wrist compared to one that is simply sprained.

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    Symptoms Of Broken & Sprained Wrists

    Dr. Tyser:

    Usually in that case, if the pain subsides over the next few days, it’s typically considered a wrist fracture. But if the pain is not getting better and persists and the swelling gets worse, difficult use to the hand, etc., many times an X-ray is warranted to determine if it is a wrist fracture or not.

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    Common Symptoms Of Wrist Sprains

    Common symptoms of wrist sprains include one or more of the following:

    • Pain. Pain in a sprained wrist may vary from an intermittent dull ache to a sharp constant pain. The pain usually subsides after a few days, however, activities such as gripping or lifting with the hand may be painful until complete healing occurs. Hand twisting activities, such as opening a jar or doorknob may also be painful.
    • Swelling. The wrist may appear swollen. Swelling may occur due to collection of fluid in the joint and tissue spaces of the injured area. The amount of swelling usually depends on the severity of the sprain.
    • Stiffness and reduced flexibility. Stiffness in the wrist joint may be caused due to swelling and/or muscle spasms in response to the ligament injury. Decreased motion, especially while bending the wrist backward and during side-to-side movements may be experienced. Flexibility should improve gradually over time.
    • Joint weakness. Reduced grip and pinch strength with a general feeling of weakness in the sprained wrist may occur in moderate to severe wrist sprains. This symptom may be exacerbated by activities requiring pushing with the hand.

    The duration of symptoms usually depends on the type and severity of the wrist sprain. While some sprains usually heal in a few days, others may take weeks or months.

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    What Should You Do

    If you do think you have a wrist sprain or you may have fractured your wrist, you should immediately see a doctor. Schedule an appointment to have a medical professional decide if you will need surgery, an x-ray, or specific treatment options.

    If you cant see a doctor immediately, its important to remember the acronym, RICE. That stands for, rest, ice, compression, and elevation. That is what you should be doing for your wrist until you see a medical professional.

    Having a broken or sprained wrist can also limit your ability to drive places or see a doctor. If that happens, you can speak with us remotely by contacting us here.

    Types Of Wrist Fractures

    Buckle/Torus Fracture on Wrist/Arm

    A fracture and a break are considered the same thing. A wrist fracture is when one or more bones in the wrist break. Below are the most common type of wrist fractures:

    The scaphoid carpal bone is just below the base of thumb and can be broken when you fall on an outstretched palm and wrist. This bone is the second most common one to be fractured. An unrecognized fracture of the scaphoid bone is often mistaken for a wrist sprain as the swelling is usually only located to the small area where the bone is, and motion of the wrist can be maintained. Other carpal bones can be fractures but are much less common.

    This type of fracture often happens in addition to the distal radius fracture. The ulnar styloid is most easily identified by the bump on the outside or pinky side of your wrist.

    “You should not assume that the degree of pain determines the specific problem. Although it would seem that a sprain would hurt less than a fracture, this is not always the case. “Brandon P. Donnelly, MD

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    How Is A Wrist Fracture Treated

    Our treatment decisions are not only based on what the X-ray looks like but on who the fracture happened to, who that person is, explains Dr. Swigart. Factors taken into consideration include whether one or more bones are broken, in one or several places whether torn ligaments are involved, and whether there are other injuries that require treatment.The good news is, most people with wrist fracture recover fully. According to Dr. Swigart, the range of treatment options for wrist fracture include:

    • Wearing a cast or splint, usually for five to six weeks, followed by physical therapy to gain strength and restore range of motion.
    • Surgery to fix the break, using pins to hold the bone in place. The pins are usually temporary. After the outpatient surgery, patients wear a cast or splint for several weeks, and then have physical therapy.
    • Reconstructive surgery, also an outpatient procedure, uses plates and screws to repair the damaged bone. Patients are required to wear a cast for two to three weeks, and then transition to a removable brace and begin physical therapy.

    Will I Need Surgery

    In most cases, these conservative healing methods are enough. But if you have a particularly severe or complex fracture, surgery may be required because a cast wont be enough to help the bone heal correctly.

    Surgery may involve the insertion of pins, screws, plates, or other devices to hold your bones in place to heal. We may recommend surgery in the following cases:

    • A piece of bone has broken through your skin
    • You have a bone broken in multiple places
    • Your break extends into the wrist joint
    • The broken pieces of bone have moved out of place
    • Pieces of bone have injured a blood vessel or nerve
    • You tore ligaments along with the break

    If you suspect youve injured a wrist and have pain, tenderness, swelling, bruising, or apparent deformity, make an appointment with our experts at Maryland Orthopedic Specialists.

    We can diagnose a fracture and get you the treatment necessary to heal and restore function. either our Bethesda or Germantown, Maryland, office or use our online system to schedule a consultation.

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    How To Manage Swelling

    Having a lot of swelling can become uncomfortable or limit your movement. To help reduce the swelling you can try to:

    • raise your arm above your heart when resting – you can do this by supporting it with pillows
    • keep the other joints in your arm moving normally
    • find a balance between rest and activity
    • use self-massage to decrease swelling – if you’re able to, direct the massage from your fingertips towards your elbow

    Signs Of A Broken Wrist

    Learning About a Broken Wrist and Understanding the Recovery

    While you will have pain in your wrist regardless of if its broken or sprained, you will have significantly more pain if you break your wrist.

    Some of the signs of a broken wrist include:

    • Tenderness to touch

    You might also experience tingling in your fingers.

    Another sign to consider is if you are completely unable to move your wrist either because you have so much pain or because of the swelling.

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    What Makes Yale Medicine’s Approach To Treating Wrist Fracture Unique

    Treatment of wrist fracture can be quite complex. Dr. Swigart believes that patients benefit when treated by an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in hand surgery and performs many wrist fracture repair procedures.

    There are a variety of ways to fix a distal radius fracture, including several different types of implants, explains Dr. Swigart. And while some types of implants are used often, others are only employed rarely. Its important to work with a doctor who knows about and is able to use all of them, she adds.

    Also of value, Dr. Swigart says, is Yale Medicines involvement in clinical research, which often gives patients access to leading edge techniques and therapies well before they become widely available. For example, she says: My work includes both clinical and biomechanical research on treating wrist fracture, and our department has been consistently involved. Being involved in the research brings insights into why things work and which things work best.

    Anatomy Of The Hand: Different Types Of Hand Fractures

    With 27 bones and 28 muscles, the human hand is certainly nimble, but it is also highly susceptible to injury, especially acute injuries as a result of direct trauma. Along with the ends of the forearms radius and ulna, the skeletal structure of the wrist is composed of eight small carpal bones. Beyond these, the palm of the hand is made up of five total metacarpal bones. Each of these is labeled numerically, one through five, with the first metacarpal controlling the thumb. The neck of each metacarpal bone is the thinnest part just behind the knuckle, whereas the base of each bone is the end situated closest to the wrist. Beyond the metacarpals, each finger has three phalanges, while the thumb has two. One of the most common types of hand fractures, commonly known as Boxers Fracture, is a break in the neck of the fifth metacarpal the one controlling the pinky. As the name suggests, a Boxers fracture is often the result of a closed fist striking a hard object, or otherwise sustaining direct trauma during a collision. Fractures to the scaphoid bone are also common, especially during college football and other athletics.

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    What Is A Broken Wrist

    Your wrist joint is where the 2 long bones in your forearm meet the 8 small bones at the base of your hand. A break in any of these bones can be considered a broken wrist. But doctors usually say “broken wrist” when you’ve:

    • Broken one or both of the 2 bones of your forearm

    This kind of broken wrist is a very common injury. Breaks in the small wrist bones are less common.

    • A broken wrist is more common in older people

    • The bones are usually pushed out of place and need to be set

    • Usually you’ll just need a cast, but sometimes doctors do surgery

    See a doctor right away if you think you have a broken wrist.

    Hand Fracture Treatments: How To Treat A Broken Hand

    How To Tell If Your Wrist Is Broken Or Fractured

    There are many broken hand treatment options to address broken fingers, broken metacarpals, and other hand injuries. Fortunately, many hand fractures will not require surgical intervention, although splints, braces, straps, and the classic buddy system may be used to immobilize the affected bones. In some instances, patients may need to wear larger casts to immobilize the entire hand or wrist. These splints and casts hold the bones in place, allowing the area to heal, while also minimizing the risk of reinjury during the recovery process. In the event of misalignment, the overseeing medical professional may need to manually reposition the finger before utilizing a splint or cast. These noninvasive treatments are viable for most situations, but in the case of more severe injuries, your doctor may recommend surgical intervention for optimal results and recovery.

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    How Do I Know If I Need Wrist Fracture Surgery

    The following factors are considered by your doctor when assessing if wrist fracture surgery is necessary. If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then your doctor will most likely recommend surgery.

    • Are the bones shifted out of position?
    • Are the bones fragmented and unstable?
    • Is the wrist joint, as a whole, affected by the injury?

    The Recovery Process: Broken Hand Healing Time

    Most patients should expect to have a follow-up appointment with their doctor within a week or two of the procedure. During the recovery process, the overseeing medical professional may use intermittent imaging tests to make sure the bones are healing properly. Pain and swelling are to be expected after surgery, and your doctor may prescribe medication to help. Over-the-counter pain medications can also be used to treat pain, discomfort, and swelling. To further minimize swelling, its important to keep the injury elevated following surgery. Ideally, the hand should be kept higher than the heart, meaning the patient may need to prop it up while seated or lying down. Ice packs may also be used to help with pain and swelling. When using this method, a towel should be kept between the ice packs and the skin, to prevent direct contact and reduce the risk of frostbite. Additional procedures may be required to remove hardware used to hold the bones in place during the healing process.

    Broken hand recovery time will be different for every injury and every patient. With proper treatment, broken fingers will typically heal within a few weeks and broken hands within one to two months, although it may take several months to make a complete recovery from a severely broken hand.

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