Complete Guide to Common Wrist Fractures

Man with a plaster cast for wrist fracture.
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The wrist is an incredibly complex structure, responsible for the flexion and extension of the hand. It is composed of carpal bones, ligaments, and tendons that work together to provide flexibility and stability. 

This intricate design allows the wrist to move in many different directions, but it also makes it vulnerable to injury. One of the most common wrist injuries is a fracture, which can occur when any one of the bones in the wrist is broken. 

In this blog post, we will discuss the most common type of fracture to the wrist, as well as the treatment options available for this type of injury. 

Common Causes of Broken Wrists

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Wrist fractures can range from hairline cracks to complete breaks, and they can vary in severity. Here are the most common causes of fractures to the wrist: 

Falls

When you fall, your first instinct is often to put your hands out to break your fall. However, the weight of your body can cause your wrists to buckle under the pressure, leading to a break.

Sports Injuries

A broken wrist is one of the most common sports injuries, particularly in young athletes. This is because the wrist is vulnerable to impact when the arm is extended, and the bones in the wrist can be damaged when a fall is broken by outstretched hands. A direct blow to the wrist can also cause the smaller bones to break. In some cases, the damage may be more extensive, and the larger bones in the wrist may also be fractured. 

Motor Vehicle Accidents 

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are over six million motor vehicle crashes in the United States each year. While some of these are minor fender benders, others can be serious accidents that result in injuries. 

One of the most common injuries from a car accident is a broken wrist. This is because when you are involved in a collision, your natural instinct is to put your hands out in front of you to protect yourself. This can cause the bones in your wrist to absorb the force of the impact, resulting in a break.

Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis can also contribute to broken wrists, as this disease causes the bones to become brittle and more likely to break with even minor trauma. 

Symptoms of a Wrist Fracture

Fractured wrist symptoms include pain, swelling, bruising and deformity at the site of the injury. A broken bone may also protrude through the skin. If you suspect that you have fractured your wrist, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. 

Types of Wrist Fractures

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Distal Radius Fracture: A distal radius fracture is a break that occurs on the radius bone on the end where it meets the wrist.

Colles Fracture: This is a type of distal radius fracture that happens as a result of an impact to the wrist while it is extended. 

Smith's Fracture: A Smith's fracture is a type of distal radius fracture that occurs when the wrist is in a flexed position.

Bartons Fracture: ​​When the radius fractures and dislocates from the radio-carpal joint, this is known as Barton’s fracture. 

Distal Ulna Fracture: is a break in ulnar bone of the forearm bones near the wrist. 

Scaphoid Fracture: The scaphoid bone is located on the thumb side of the hand, and it plays an important role in stabilizing the wrist.

Chauffeur's Fracture: When you get hit in the back of your wrist with something hard, it can break one of the small bones, typically the radial styloid bone, causing a chauffeur's fracture. 

Greenstick Fracture: is a type of wrist injury that commonly occurs in children where one side of the bone is cracked but it does not extend all the way through. 

Ulnar Styloid Fracture: A fracture of the ulnar styloid is a break in the bone at the end of the ulna (a bone in the forearm). The ulnar styloid is a small bony projection that is located near the hand. This bone fits into the cartilage of the wrist joint and helps to provide strength and flexibility to the wrist and forearm. 

How Are Wrist Fractures Treated?

Doctor examining woman with wrist fracture
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Doctor Examination

If you think you may have fractured your wrist, it's important to see a doctor as soon as possible. They will ask about your symptoms and how the injury occurred, and then perform a physical examination before determining whether or not a reduction is possible. This is a procedure in which the doctor manually moves the broken pieces of bone into their proper position. This can be done through a variety of methods, such as traction or manipulation. In many cases, this can be done without having to make an incision, which is known as a closed reduction. 

X-Ray

An X-ray is generally used to diagnose a wrist fracture and assess the extent of the injury. Once the type of wrist fracture has been determined, your doctor will decide on the best course of treatment.

Orthopedic Cast

In most cases, a wrist fracture can be treated with a traditional plaster or fiberglass cast. This type of treatment immobilizes the affected area to allow proper healing.

Thankfully, as medical technology advances, more comfortable casting treatments are becoming available. One example of this is Cast21, a cast alternative that is revolutionizing the way doctors treat broken bones. 

Designed to provide the same level of protection as a traditional cast without all the bulk, Cast21’s innovative open lattice structure offers superior comfort and convenience for those dealing with a broken wrist. Talk to your doctor about whether a Cast21 alternative may be right for your healing journey. 

Surgery

More serious fractures may require an orthopedic surgeon to realign the bones and secure them in place with metal pins, screws, or plates. This is known as an open reduction surgery. This type of reduction is usually reserved for more serious fractures, where precise alignment is essential for proper healing. After surgery, the wrist will be immobilized in a splint or cast until it heals. 

Physical Therapy 

Once the cast is removed, you will most likely start physical therapy to help improve motion and function of your wrist. Physical therapy typically consists of exercises to regain strength and range of motion. With time and rehabilitation, most wrist fractures will heal without complications. 

Caring for Your Wrist Fracture With Cast21

With proper care and treatment, most people make a full recovery from a wrist fracture. If you are looking for a cast alternative that is made for the 21st-century lifestyle, Cast21 offers the same healing benefits as a traditional cast, but it is made of lightweight materials that are comfortable and easy to wear.

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