Wrist Injury

Plymouth Orthopaedic and Sports Injury Clinic

Wrist Fracture

What causes it?

A simple fall from a standing height or a higher energy injury may be involved (eg sporting injury, car accident, fall from a height).

Symptoms

Pain in the wrist after trauma. There may be swelling or bruising. If the wrist is broken or dislocated, there may be deformity.

Treatment

Plaster Cast – stable fractures that are in a satisfactory position may be treated in a plaster cast, usually for 6 weeks.
Manipulation – A fracture that is out of position may need a manipulation. A plaster cast may then be applied to hold it in the corrected position.
Surgery – Some fractures cannot be held in the correct position with a plaster. An operation under general anaesthetic is required. A metal plate and screws are used to hold the fracture while it heals. Plaster is often not required. The metalwork is usually left in place unless it is troublesome.
Occasionally wires are used to hold a fracture – these are protected by a plaster. At 6 weeks the wires and plaster are removed.

Scaphoid Fracture

What is it?

A fracture of a small bone in the wrist. The scaphoid has a
poor blood supply and fractures have a tendency not to heal, especially if left untreated. Unhealed fractures usually lead to wrist arthritis over a 10 year period.

What causes it?

Occasionally a fall from standing height, but more commonly a fall playing sport.

Symptoms

A painful wrist, around the base of the thumb. Swelling is not always present.

Treatment

Plaster cast – most scaphoid fractures can be treated in plaster, but often need 12 weeks or more to heal.
Surgery – some fractures require surgery (under general anaesthetic) and often plaster as well, to improve the chance of the fracture healing.