DISTAL RADIUS WRIST FRACTURES

DISTAL RADIUS WRIST FRACTURES

Paul Nielsen, MD
Orthopaedic SurgeonDISTAL RADIUS WRIST FRACTURES

December 30, 2019

How is a Distal Radius Fracture Diagnosed?

  • Pain in the wrist after a fall or injury
    • Swelling, bruising, and deformity are also common
  • X-Rays are used to check for a distal radius fracture
    • Occasionally a CT scan is used if the wrist is badly fractured

What Are Common Causes of Distal Radius Fractures?

  • Falling onto an outstretched arm is the most common cause
    • Higher energy trauma such as car wrecks, sports, and falls from greater heights also occur
  • Osteoporosis or weakening of the bones makes the wrist bone more fragile
    • Older patients are more likely to break their wrist with less severe falls

What Are the Treatment Options for Distal Radius Fractures?

  • Casts and braces
    • Fractures lined up well can often be treated with just immobilization for about 6 weeks
    • This is also used for patients who are not good candidates for surgery
  • Reductions or setting the bone
    • Fractures that are shifted or angled are often reduced to line them up correctly
    • A splint or cast is then used to hold the bone lined up
  • Surgery
    • Usually involves putting a plate on the palm side of the wrist to hold the bone lined up correctly
    • Typically a same-day outpatient procedure

What Is Recovery Like After Surgery?

  • Patients are in a splint holding the wrist still for the first two weeks after surgery
    • You are able to move and use your other fingers immediately post-op
    • A removable splint is used until 6 weeks after surgery
  • Exercises to move the wrist start at 2 weeks after surgery
    • Strengthening starts 6 weeks after surgery
  • Most patients regain good function of their wrist
  • Rarely the plate will be removed after the fracture has healed

Worried about a distal radius fracture? Call 308-865-2570 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Nielsen. Same day appointments are typically available. No referral required.

About the Author
Paul Nielsen, MD is an orthopedic surgeon specializing in hand & upper extremity surgery at New West Sports Medicine & Orthopaedic Surgery in Kearney, NE.