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Wrist fracture

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What is a Wrist Fracture?

A fractured wrist is the same thing as a broken wrist, this condition is usually caused by a fall on an outstretched hand or from a very heavy direct blow to your arm. There are two bones in your forearm which are called the radius and the ulna where the radius is the most fractured bone is your radius, this bone takes around 80% of your body mass when you push up from your hand.  

What causes wrist fractures?

As explained above it is common that a person will sustain a wrist fracture from a fall on an outstretched hand. It is common that a wrist fracture will be placed in a cast or an operation to treat and allow it to heal. This will depend on how severe your injury is. Physiotherapy will be needed after you have your cast taken off as your wrist will most likely be still stiff, sore and swollen.

Your physiotherapist will be able to help you with whatever on-going symptoms you may have.

How do I know if I have a wrist fracture?

You may have a wrist fracture if you may experience serious pain in the area. An adult fracture is usually very clear to see although small cracks may be missed, it is recommended that you have an X-ray if you are still experiencing pain after a fall. It is advisable to get your child checked by your GP or physiotherapist after a fall or a heavy blow as fractures are often mistaken for sprains. The most common signs of a fracture include:

  • Reduced movement
  • Pain
  • Swelling

A diagnosis can be made once an X-ray has been completed.

How can physiotherapy help with wrist fracture?

Your physiotherapists can help you with a wrist fracture in many ways including:

  • Helping your children recover from a simple, undisplaced fracture, usually in children where your physiotherapist may fit protective splints to immobilise them as they heal. Undisplaced fractures are where the bone only breaks in one spot and the two pieces of the bone remain aligned.

In the rehabilitation stage of your recovery your physiotherapist can help you with:

  • Designed exercises to help with recovery
  • Hands-on techniques such as joint mobilisation and massage helping you regain movement  & reducing discomfort in the wrist and arm
  • Swelling management which may be a compression sleeve or a glove in addition to elevation.
  • A brace may help to return safely to sport or work earlier.

What can I do at home?

It is important that you listen to the advice given to you by your GP & physiotherapist to ensure the healing process is completed correctly. You must elevate your arm in the early days to reduce swelling, you should move your shoulder, finger & elbow carefully a few times a day to ensure they do not become stiff. If you are still in pain or more pain then it is important to contact the person or place who put your cast on as it may be too long or tight therefore causing finger stiffness. Ensure that you complete the exercises given to you by your physiotherapist.

How long until I feel better?

It is common that it takes 12 weeks for the fracture to heal although most people still experience some stiffness or mild discomfort for 12 months or more after they’ve fractured their wrist.

If you would like to find out more please call us or book an appointment here.

Back to Physiotherapy for Your Wrist

Reference: Australian Physiotherapy Association 2019, Your Body, viewed 19 November 2019, < https://australian.physio/>.