Caroline talks to us about Wrist fractures, how these are treated with physiotherapy, and what to expect in terms of recovery.
There are 27 bones that make up your hand and wrist.
In the fingers there are:
- 5 distal phalanges
- 4 middle phalanges
- 5 proximal phalanges
In the palm there are:
- 5 metacarpals
In the wrist there are:
- 8 carpals
These all sit at the distal end of the two long bones in the forearm, the radius and the ulnar.
The most commonly injured bone in the wrist is the radius, in the hand it is the 5th metacarpal and in the fingers it is the distal phalanx (tips) of the thumb, index and little fingers.
10% of all broken bones are in the fingers.. Poor fingers!
The most common cause for a broken wrist is falling onto an outstretched hand (FOOSH). The most notable bones to break are the distal radius, ulnar styloid and scaphoid bone, followed by pisiform and triquetrum.
Many wrist fractures will unite (heal) with conservative management (no operation), some will require manipulation (closed reduction) before being “set” in a cast or splint and others will require surgery, usually ORIF (Open Reduction and Internal Fixation) with plate and screws or screws or wires with no plate.
When to cast and when to splint? This is a clinical decision which can be made by your treating health care professional and is based on the fracture type, its stability, whether or not the joint is involved and the daily activities that the person usually does.
The cast/splint usually needs to stay on for 4-8 weeks depending on surgical/conservative management, in which time you will be given exercises for your fingers, elbow, shoulder and neck.
At three months post fracture, the wrist is typically feeling 60-80% of normal and at twelve months usually 90-100% normal. Swelling and pain can linger beyond twelve months but normal function is usually restored by then.
If you have any wrist questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to Caroline. In her words: Being a Hand therapist is not all fingers and thumbs, there are wrists, elbows and shoulders as well as a whole body attached to them!
At Innovations Physio & Pilates, we can assist with getting you back to your activities with confidence and comfort.