The wrist is a part of the body that is injured frequently, and these injuries may result in pain, a sprained wrist or even a wrist fracture. A wrist fracture is a medical term for a broken wrist, which means you’ve broken one or more of the many bones in your wrist. There are eight wrist bones which are connected to the forearm bones called the radius and the ulna. The radius is the most common bone to break in the wrist. This injury typically happens from falling on an outstretched hand, but it can also result from traumatic events such as a car accident.
from The Scope
Even a small slip or fall onto an outstretched hand can injure your wrist, but just how bad is it? Should you ice and elevate the injury? Or go to the doctor for an X-ray? Orthopedic surgeon and hand specialist Dr. Andrew Tyser lends his expertise on this episode of “The Specialists,” and explains what to look out for when it comes to wrist injuries.
Dr. Miller: How would somebody know if they might have a wrist fracture versus a sprain of the wrist? What are the common ways that we get wrist fractures?
Dr. Tyser: That’s a great question. I think it’s important to know that wrist fractures in general are very common as are wrist sprains. Many times they’re caused by similar mechanisms. Lots of times people have a simple fall from ground level, sometimes slipping on the ice, sometimes falling off a bike. And the first question is, this hurts, is it broken or not?
A wrist fracture is a medical term for a broken wrist. There are different types of wrist fractures. It can be “non-displaced,” which means the bones do not move out of place, or it can be “displaced,” when the bones need to be put back in the right place with a cast or splint. Both of these fractures are stable. It can also be unstable, which means the bone may have shattered and cannot be fixed with a cast or splint.
Fractures can be treated with a cast, splint or even surgery. It depends on your personal circumstances. Learn more about wrist fractures, and view additional videos at www.HandCare.org.
My neighbor recently had a FOOSH walking on an icy sidewalk, and when she told me she broke her wrist, I was curious about the acronym. Exactly what does a FOOSH mean, and what type of injury occurred?
A FOOSH means a “fall on the outstretched hand,” and the most common injury is a distal radius fracture. This type of fracture involves the end of one of the two long bones in the forearm (see photo). These injuries are more common in females in old age (over 65) due to the higher incidence of osteoporosis.
The advent of the hoverboard has rapidly increased the incidence of wrist fractures in a young person. In fact, hoverboard injuries have increased so rapidly, that the Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued a warning to users about fall risks. Please watch this brief video to learn more about these injuries and to be aware of precautions if you’re planning to attempt use of these products.
Dr. David J. Bozentka answers your questions about wrist fractures, commonly known as a distal radius fracture.
Q: What is a distal radius fracture?
A: The radius is the forearm bone on the thumb side of your wrist. When you break the radius bone about an inch from the wrist it is considered a distal radius fracture. These are the most common fractures of the wrist and occur most often when you fall on an outstretched hand. You will notice pain, swelling, and sometimes a deformity after the injury. The fracture can range in severity from very mild (requiring a splint for treatment) to a more severe injury in which the bone is shifted out of position and might need surgery.
Q: What should I do if I believe that I have broken my wrist?
A: You should support your wrist with a splint, apply ice, and elevate it. You should have an evaluation by a hand surgeon as soon as possible. The hand surgeon will often obtain an x-ray and place you in a well-molded, supportive splint or cast. You may need to have the wrist placed in a better position; this is called “reducing” the fracture. You will be asked to follow-up with your hand surgeon.
Q: What studies are performed in treating a distal radius fracture?
A: X-rays are performed in all patients to evaluate the extent of the injury. A CT scan might be needed to better evaluate the number of fragments and displacement. X-rays might be repeated every week or few weeks if you are treated without surgery to determine if the fracture has shifted out of alignment. A final set of x-rays are also taken to confirm that the fracture has healed, which occurs at six weeks or longer after the injury. If you are over 50 years of age, whether you are a male or female, ask your doctor about an evaluation for osteoporosis. A DEXA scan is often performed in the workup in the evaluation.