Broken Wrist

Broken Wrist

Article by John Miller

Fractured Wrist

Broken Wrist

Common wrist fractures include:

  • Fractured Radius (see image)
  • Fractured Ulna
  • Colles Fracture (# Radius + # Ulna)
  • Fractured Carpals
    • Scaphoid Fracture (most common)
    • Lunate Fracture / Kienbock Disease
    • Capitate Fracture
    • Trapezium Fracture
    • Trapezoid Fracture
    • Triquetrum Fracture
    • Hamate Fracture
    • Pisiform Fracture

broken wrist

Each wrist fracture (broken wrist) needs specific rehabilitation based on injury type and fracture stability. Unstable fractures will almost always require surgical stabilisation. Stable fractures will be treated with a protective and supportive splint and monitored for appropriate fracture healing. If they show signs of instability, then your surgeon may consider operative stabilisation.

It is crucial only to perform the exercises prescribed by your Orthopaedic Surgeon or Physiotherapist. You should also wear your wrist splint/cast at all times unless advised otherwise by your physiotherapist or surgeon.

6 Weeks Post-Fracture General Guidelines

  • Splint/Cast. Do NOT remove the splint or bandage unless instructed.
  • No movement of the wrist. No AROM, PROM or Strengthening.
  • Physiotherapy for the wrist will commence once your fracture is stable and the cast is removed. Your surgeon will advise.
  • Restrictions: No lifting, pulling, pushing or weight-bearing for six weeks.
  • No driving for six weeks. You are not insured!
  • You may type, write and feed yourself with a lightly loaded fork.
  • No sports or activities where you are at risk of falling onto your wrist.
  • You will begin active (AROM) and passive (PROM) of the fingers to prevent stiffness, reduce swelling and avoid Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). Move your elbow and fingers through their full range of motion 10x/hour. These must be performed in the splint.
  • Vitamin C reduces the prevalence of CRPS after wrist fractures. A daily dose of 500 mg for fifty days is recommended. (Aïm et al. 2017)
  • Your surgeon may re-Xray weekly to ensure that the fracture is healing correctly. In some cases, they may recommend surgery to stabilise the fracture if it is not healing appropriately.

Hand Swelling, Pain or Pins & Needles

Important

Each radius fracture (broken wrist) needs specific rehabilitation based on the injury type and fracture stability. Unstable fractures will almost always require surgical stabilisation. Stable fractures will be treated with a protective and supportive splint and monitored for appropriate fracture healing. If they show signs of instability, then your surgeon may consider operative stabilisation.

General Advice: First 6-Weeks Post-Fracture

The following advice is general. Your trusted healthcare professional will specifically guide you.

  • Splint/Cast. Do NOT remove the splint or bandage unless instructed.
  • No movement of the wrist. No AROM, PROM or Strengthening.
  • Physiotherapy for the wrist will commence once your fracture is stable and the cast is removed. Your surgeon will advise.
  • Restrictions: No lifting, pulling, pushing or weight-bearing for 6 weeks.
  • No driving for 6 weeks. You are not insured!
  • You may type, write and feed yourself with a lightly loaded fork.
  • No sports or activities where you are at risk of falling onto your wrist.
  • You will begin active (AROM) and passive (PROM) of the fingers to prevent stiffness, reduce swelling and avoid Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). Move your elbow and fingers through their full range of motion 10x/hour. These must be performed in the splint.
  • Vitamin C reduces the prevalence of CRPS after wrist fractures. A daily dose of 500 mg for fifty days is recommended. (Aïm et al 2017)
  • Your surgeon may re-Xray weekly to ensure that the fracture is healing correctly. In some cases, they may recommend surgery to stabilise the fracture if it is not healing appropriately.

Beware of CRPS (Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome)

Hand Swelling, Pain or Pins & Needles

It is extremely important to prevent hand and finger swelling post-fracture. Near permanent elevation (high arm sling) and regular finger and upper arm movement while protecting the fracture is the key. CRPS is a very significant and painful complication that can complicate your rehabilitation. Carpal tunnel syndrome may present as pins and needles to your hand. Please report any increase in swelling, pins and needles, or pain to your physiotherapist or doctor ASAP.

Post-Fracture Exercises

Post-fracture exercises are specific to your fracture and should be performed after assessment and guidance from your healthcare professional. Based on that, it is imperative only to perform the exercises prescribed by your Orthopaedic Surgeon or Physiotherapist. You should also wear your wrist split/cast at all times unless advised otherwise by your physiotherapist or surgeon.

Do your exercises frequently throughout the day. Multiple sessions of short duration are generally better than longer sessions done only once or twice.

Article by John Miller

Experience the PhysioWorks Difference?

You'll be impressed with the experienced physiotherapists, massage therapists, allied health team and reception staff representing PhysioWorks.

If you've been searching for health practitioners with a serious interest in your rehabilitation or injury prevention program, our staff have either participated or are still participating in competitive sports at a representative level.

To ensure that we remain highly qualified, PhysioWorks is committed to continuing education to provide optimal care. We also currently offer physiotherapy and massage services for numerous sports clubs, state and national representative teams and athletes. Our experience helps us understand what you need to do to safely and quickly return to your sporting field, home duties, or employment.

How You'll Benefit from the PhysioWorks Difference?

At PhysioWorks physiotherapy and massage clinics, we strive to offer our clients quick, effective and long-lasting results by providing high-quality treatment. With many years of clinical experience, our friendly service and quality treatment is a benchmark not only in Brisbane but Australia-wide.

What are Some of the BIG Differences?

We aim to get you better quicker in a friendly and caring environment conducive to successful healing. Our therapists pride themselves on keeping up to date with the latest research and treatment skills to ensure that they provide you with the most advantageous treatment methods. They are continually updating their knowledge via seminars, conferences, workshops, scientific journals etc. Not only will you receive a detailed consultation, but we offer long-term solutions, not just quick fixes that, in reality, only last for a short time. We attempt to treat the cause, not just the symptoms.

PhysioWorks clinics are modern thinking. Not only in their appearance but in the equipment we use and in our therapists' knowledge. Our staff care about you!  We are always willing to go that 'extra mile' to guarantee that we cater to our client's unique needs. All in all, we feel that your chances of the correct diagnosis, the most effective treatment and the best outcomes are all the better at PhysioWorks.

Arm Pain Causes

Arm pain and injuries are widespread. Arm pain can occur as a result of either sudden, traumatic or repetitive overuse. The causes can be related to sports injuries, work injuries or simply everyday arm use.

Arm pain can be a local injury, musculoskeletal injury or could even be referred from nerves in your neck (cervical radiculopathy). This can result in neck-arm pain.

Causes of Arm Pain by Region

Causes of Arm Pain by Structure

Neck-Related Arm Pain

Shoulder-Related Arm Pain

Elbow-Related Arm Pain

Wrist-Related Arm Pain

Hand-Related Arm Pain

Muscle-Related Arm Pain

Other Sources of Arm Pain

Common Causes of Arm Pain

The most common sources of arm pain include shoulder painwrist pain and elbow pain.

Referred Arm Pain

As mentioned earlier, arm pain can be referred to from another source. Cervical radiculopathy is a common source of referred arm pain. Cervical radiculopathy will not respond to treatment where you feel the arm pain. However, it will respond positively to treatment at the source of the injury (e.g. your neck joints).

Professional assessment from a health practitioner skilled in diagnosing both spinal-origin and local-origin (muscle and joint) injuries (e.g. your physiotherapist) is recommended to ensure an accurate diagnosis and prompt treatment directed at the arm pain source.

Arm Pain has Diverse Causes.

The causes of your arm pain can be extensive and varied. Due to this diversity, your arm pain should be assessed by a suitably qualified health practitioner to attain an accurate diagnosis, treatment plan and implementation specific to your arm pain.

What Arm Pain is Associated with a Heart Attack?

Left-arm pain can be an early sign of a life-threatening cardiac issue. Based on this, a professional medical assessment that involves an accurate history, symptom analysis, physical examination and diagnostic tests to exclude a potential heart attack is important to exclude this potentially life-threatening source of arm pain.

For more information, please consult with your health practitioner, call an ambulance on 000, or visit a hospital emergency department to put your mind at ease.

Good News. Most Arm Pain is NOT Life-Threatening.

Luckily, life-threatening arm pain is far less likely than a local musculoskeletal injury. Arm pain caused by a localised arm muscle, tendon or joint injury should be assessed and confirmed by your health practitioner before commencing treatment.

Arm Pain Prognosis

The good news is that arm pain, and injury will normally respond very favourably to medical or physiotherapy intervention when early professional assessment and treatment is sought. Please do not delay in consulting your healthcare practitioner if you experience arm pain.

Common Arm Pain Treatments

With accurate assessment and early treatment, most arm injuries respond extremely quickly to physiotherapy or medical care, allowing you to resume pain-free and normal activities of daily living quickly.

Please ask your physiotherapist for their professional treatment advice.