Tests and diagnosis

By Mayo Clinic Staff

The diagnosis of a broken wrist or hand generally includes a physical exam and one or more imaging tests.

Physical exam

During the physical exam, your doctor will check the affected area for:

  • Tenderness
  • Swelling
  • Range of motion
  • Deformity
  • Open wound
  • Nerve damage
  • Impaired blood flow

Imaging tests

Imaging scans are crucial to the diagnosis of a broken wrist or broken hand. To diagnose your injury, you may have:

  • X-ray. Using low levels of radiation, X-rays are a good tool to visualize bone. X-rays are painless and take only a few minutes to complete.
  • CT scan. CT scans can often uncover wrist or hand fractures that X-rays might miss. Injuries to soft tissues and blood vessels also are easier to see on CT scans. This technology takes X-rays from a variety of angles and combines them to depict cross-sectional slices of your body's internal structures.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). MRI uses radio waves and a powerful magnet to produce detailed images of bone and soft tissues. It is much more sensitive than X-rays and can identify very small fractures and ligament injuries.
July 17, 2014