Wrist fractures are the most common broken bone for people under 65 years old. In fact, one out of every 6 fractures treated in the ER are wrist fractures!
Wrist Fracture Symptoms:
- Wrist Pain
- Swelling of or around the wrist
- Deformity of the wrist
Wrist Fracture Treatment
Treatment for a wrist fracture can vary on a case by case basis. Some wrist fractures can be treated in a cast. Physicians can reset the fracture and cast it and the bones can heal themselves. There are cases though when a wrist fracture needs surgery. Physicians take into consideration other factors to determine whether a patient needs surgery such as:
- Age of patient – if the patient is young and very active, physicians will do everything possible to restore the wrist to completely normal function. As the patient gets older, he/she may not need perfect restoration of function.
- Quality of the bone – a patient must have good bone quality for surgery because surgery is traumatic to the bone. If bones are thin and weak, surgery could be less beneficial.
- Fracture location – If cartilage in the wrist can not be lined up properly to heal well in a cast, physicians may have to do surgery to ensure full recovery of motion in the wrist.
- Bone positioning – It can at times be difficult to hold bones in position during casting so surgery is needed to restore bones to proper position.
At Emory Orthopaedics and Spine, hand specialists Dr. Claudius Jarrett or I can many times decrease your recovery time and quicken your return to prior recreational activity with a minimally invasive surgery. The recovery could be much less than the average 3 month period that many patients spend in a cast.
Patients should consult their physician right away if you suspect you have a broken wrist so they can evaluate and provide the best options for you and your particular case.
Gary R. McGillivary, M.D., is an assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery. A native of Nova Scotia, Canada, he is a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons (FRCS). Dr. McGillivary started practicing at Emory in 1997. Dr. McGillivary specializes in upper extremity surgery (particularly wrist and elbow), fracture care, and carpal tunnel syndrome. He is published in various medical journals and is active in professional societies in the United States and Canada.