Nerve Damage After Broken Wrist

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A broken wrist can be a painful and challenging injury on its own, but for some individuals, it can also lead to nerve damage. Nerve damage occurs when the nerves that send signals to and from the wrist are compressed, stretched, or otherwise injured during the process of a wrist fracture. This type of damage can cause a range of symptoms, including tingling, numbness, weakness, and pain. 

While nerve damage related to a broken wrist can be a serious complication, there are a variety of treatments available to help manage symptoms and promote healing. In this blog post, we will explore the causes, symptoms, and treatments for nerve damage after a broken wrist, as well as offer tips for preventing further injury and promoting recovery.

Symptoms of Nerve Damage After a Broken Wrist

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Nerve damage after a broken wrist can cause a range of symptoms that may impact the affected individual's daily life. For example, if the person experiences tingling or numbness in the hand or fingers, they may have difficulty performing fine motor tasks such as typing on a keyboard or buttoning clothing. This can make work or other daily activities challenging and frustrating. The following are some common symptoms that may occur:

  • Tingling or numbness in the hand or fingers: This can range from a mild, occasional sensation to a more persistent feeling of pins and needles.
  • Weakness or loss of grip strength in the affected hand: The individual may have difficulty holding or carrying objects, using a keyboard, or performing other tasks that require hand strength.
  • Sharp or shooting pain in the wrist or fingers: This can be a sign of nerve irritation or compression.
  • Loss of sensation in the wrist or hand: The individual may have difficulty feeling heat, cold, or touch in the affected area.
  • Muscle atrophy: In severe cases of nerve damage, the muscles in the hand and wrist may begin to shrink or waste away.

It is important to note that not all individuals with nerve damage after a broken wrist will experience all of these symptoms. Additionally, symptoms may vary in severity and can worsen over time if left untreated. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms after a broken wrist, it is important to seek medical attention to determine the cause and appropriate treatment.

Learn More: Signs You May Have a Hairline Wrist Fracture 

Causes of Nerve Damage After a Broken Wrist

Understanding the causes of nerve damage after a broken wrist is important, as it can help individuals identify and seek prompt medical attention. Here is a list of potential causes of nerve damage after a broken wrist:

  • Bone fragments: A broken bone can displace or break into several pieces, and these fragments can put pressure on nearby nerves, leading to damage.
  • Swelling: Swelling after a wrist fracture can increase pressure on the nerves in the wrist, leading to irritation or compression.
  • Direct trauma: The force of the impact that caused the wrist fracture can damage the nerves directly, leading to nerve damage.
  • Pinched nerves: The position of the wrist during the fracture or the use of a cast or splint to immobilize the wrist can put pressure on nerves, leading to nerve damage.
  • Delayed healing: If the broken bone takes longer than usual to heal, it can shift and put pressure on the nerves in the wrist, causing nerve damage.

The severity and location of the break can impact the likelihood of nerve damage. Fractures that occur near the wrist joint are more likely to cause nerve damage than fractures further away from the joint. Additionally, the severity of the fracture, such as whether the bone is displaced or comminuted, can also increase the risk of nerve damage.

Diagnosis and Treatment 

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If an individual suspects they have nerve damage after a broken wrist, it is important to seek medical attention promptly. A doctor can diagnose nerve damage through physical exams, which may include testing for sensation and strength in the affected area, as well as imaging tests such as X-rays, MRIs, or CT scans.

Treatment for nerve damage after a broken wrist may vary depending on the severity of the damage. In cases of mild nerve damage, doctors may recommend watchful waiting and pain management. Physical therapy may also be recommended to help improve strength and mobility in the wrist and hand.

In more severe cases, surgery may be necessary to repair the nerve damage. The type of surgery will depend on the location and severity of the damage. For example, a nerve graft may be used to repair a damaged nerve, or a nerve transfer may be used to redirect a healthy nerve to replace a damaged one.

Is Nerve Damage Permanent? 

It is important to note that some nerve damage may be permanent and ongoing management of symptoms may be necessary. This may include pain management, use of braces or splints to support the affected area, and modification of daily activities to avoid exacerbating symptoms.

In some cases, medication may be prescribed to help manage pain or reduce inflammation. Additionally, alternative therapies such as acupuncture or massage may be used in conjunction with traditional treatments to help manage symptoms of nerve damage.

Prevention of Nerve Damage After a Broken Wrist

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Prevention is key when it comes to avoiding nerve damage after a broken wrist. While some risk factors, such as the severity and location of the break, may be beyond an individual's control, there are steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of nerve damage: 

  • Seek prompt medical attention: The first step in preventing nerve damage is to seek medical attention for a broken wrist. A doctor can diagnose and treat the injury, reducing the risk of complications such as nerve damage.
  • Follow proper treatment guidelines: It is important to follow proper treatment guidelines, including immobilizing the wrist with a cast or brace and avoiding activities that could further injure the wrist. This can help reduce the risk of nerve damage.
  • Engage in regular exercise: Regular exercise can help improve strength and flexibility in the wrist and hand. Activities such as yoga or Pilates can be particularly beneficial for wrist health.
  • Use proper technique and form: It is important to use proper technique and form when engaging in activities that involve the wrist, such as typing or using tools. Using ergonomic equipment, such as a keyboard or mouse with wrist support, can also help reduce the risk of injury.
  • Take breaks and stretch regularly: Taking breaks and stretching regularly when engaging in repetitive activities, such as typing or using a computer mouse, can help reduce strain on the wrist and prevent injuries.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle: Maintaining a healthy lifestyle by eating a balanced diet, getting regular exercise, and avoiding smoking can help improve overall health and reduce the risk of injuries.

Learn More: How Long Does it Take to Heal a Broken Wrist? 

The Cast21 Orthopedic Cast Alternative For A Broken Wrist

Fracturing your wrist is a common injury that may lead to nerve damage. Traditionally, orthopedic casts made of plaster or fiberglass are used to immobilize the affected area. However, these casts can be inconvenient, uncomfortable, and unsightly.

Fortunately, Cast21 has developed an innovative orthopedic cast alternative that revolutionizes the healing experience. The Cast21's open lattice design is lightweight, breathable, and waterproof, allowing for more freedom of movement and comfort. Additionally, the cast's sleek and modern appearance enhances both functionality and style.

If you're seeking a more comfortable and practical alternative to traditional orthopedic casts, contact Cast21 today to locate a provider near you.

Learn More: Everything You Need to Know About the Cast21 Alternative

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