Wrist Fracture

Overview

Definition

A wrist fracture is a break in one or more of the bones in the wrist. The scaphoid is the most commonly fractured bone.

This fact sheet will focus on scaphoid fracture. There are also 2 bones in the forearm that make up the wrist. Wrist fractures of one of these bones, called a Colles fracture, are on another sheet.

Scaphoid Fracture
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Causes

Trauma to the bones in the wrist cause a fracture. Falling on an outstretched hand with your wrist stretched causes this to happen. This is the most common cause. There are other ways it can happen.

Risk Factors

This injury is most common in young men who are 15-30 years of age.

SymptomsandDiagnosis

Symptoms

Symptoms of this injury are:

  • Pain or soreness in the wrist that is worse when you try to grip or squeeze
  • Swelling
  • Changes in the way your wrist looks

Diagnosis

You will be asked about your symptoms how the injury occurred. Your wrist will be checked.

Images may be taken. They can highlight damage to the bone and make sure everything is in the right place.

  • X-rays
  • MRI scan
  • Bone scan
  • Ultrasound

Treatments

Treatment

Proper treatment can help you avoid problems with your wrist later. Treatment will depend on your fracture, but may include:

Initial Care

You will need extra support to protect your wrist and keep it in line. You may have a splint or cast to keep it still.

Sometimes pieces of bone can come apart. The doctor will need to put these pieces back into place. This may be done:

  • Without surgery—Medicine will be used to lower pain while the pieces are moved back into place.
  • With surgery—Pins, screws, plates, or wires may be needed to put the pieces back together and hold them in place.

Children’s bones are still growing at an area of the bone called the growth plate. If the fracture is in the growth plate, your child may be sent to a doctor who treats the bones of children. An injury to the growth plate will need to be monitored to make sure the bone grows as it should.

Medication

Over-the-counter medicine can help with swelling and pain.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy will help strengthen muscles and range of motion.

Prevention

To lower your chance of a wrist fracture:

  • Wear proper padding and safety gear when you take part in sports or activities.
  • Do not put yourself at risk for injury to the bone.
  • Always wear a seatbelt when you drive or ride in a car.

To help reduce falling hazards at work and home, take these steps:

  • Clean spills and slippery areas right away.
  • Remove items you could trip on such as loose cords, rugs, and clutter.
  • Use non-slip mats in the bathtub and shower.
  • Install grab bars next to the toilet and in the shower or tub.
  • Put in handrails on both sides of stairways.
  • Walk only in well-lit rooms, stairs, and halls.
  • Keep flashlights nearby in case of a power outage.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.

a (Fracture, Wrist; Broken Wrist; Scaphoid Fracture)

RESOURCES

The American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine http://www.sportsmed.org 

Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons http://orthoinfo.org 

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian Orthopaedic Association http://www.coa-aco.org 

Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation http://www.canorth.org 

References

Distal radius fractures (broken wrist). Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00412. Updated March 2013. Accessed September 1, 2017.

Scaphoid fracture. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:  http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116698/Scaphoid-fracture . Updated October 26, 2015. Accessed September 1, 2017.