The wrist is most commonly fractured by falling on an outstretched hand (FOOSH). You can fracture one of the long forearm bones (most commonly the radius) or one of the smaller wrist bones (carpal bones) such as the scaphoid. If you do sustain a FOOSH and have immediate wrist pain and an inability to put weight through the hand or move the wrist, along with immediate swelling, it’s likely that you may have a wrist fracture and you should seek medical assessment.
A Colles (radius) fracture is the most common wrist fracture and often displays a ‘dinner fork’ deformity meaning that the back of your wrist resembles a fork turned downwards. This may treated by immobilisation or surgical repair. Physiotherapy will commence after your orthopaedic surgeon has told you that the fracture has united and rehabilitation can begin.
A fracture of the scaphoid bone is less symptomatically severe as a Colles fracture. This bone is found at the base of the thumb. The reason a fracture of this bone is somewhat infamous is because not all scaphoid bones heal well after fracture. The blood supply to this bone can be compromised by fracture, leading to crumbling of the bone over time (avascular necrosis) which leads to longer term problems with the wrist. For this reason, it’s extremely important that this fracture is identified early and treated effectively.
Top tips for wrist fracture
- It is very important to keep your fingers, elbow and shoulder joints moving while you are immobilised for your wrist fracture. This means moving at least 3 times a day throw full available range of movement.
- Once your orthopaedic surgeon has confirmed that your fracture has united, rehabilitation will begin in earnest. At IONA Physiotherapy we will give you the appropriate exercise programme and help your regain movement at the wrist as soon as possible.