If the broken ends of the bone aren't aligned properly, your doctor will need to manipulate the pieces back into their proper positions — a process called fracture reduction. Depending on the amount of pain and swelling you have, you may need a muscle relaxant, a sedative or even a general anesthetic before this procedure.
Restricting the movement of a broken bone in your wrist or hand is critical to proper healing. To do this, you may need a splint or a cast.
To reduce pain, your doctor may recommend an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or naproxen sodium (Aleve, others). If you're experiencing severe pain, you may need an opioid medication, such as codeine.
After your cast or splint is removed, you'll likely need rehabilitation exercises or physical therapy to reduce stiffness and restore movement in your wrist and hand. Rehabilitation can help, but it may take up to several months — or even longer — for complete healing of severe injuries.
Surgical and other procedures
If immobilization isn't an option, you may need surgery to implant internal fixation devices, such as plates, rods or screws, or bone grafts to maintain proper position of your bones during healing. These internal fixation devices may be necessary if you have the following injuries:
- Multiple fractures
- An unstable or displaced fracture
- Loose bone fragments that could enter a joint
- Damage to the surrounding ligaments
- Fractures that extend into a joint
- A fracture that is the result of a crushing accident
In some cases, the surgeon may immobilize your fracture by using an external fixation device. This consists of a metal frame with two or more pins that go through your skin and into the bone on either side of the fracture.
July 17, 2014
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- Sebastin S, et al. Overview of finger, hand, and wrist fractures. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 22, 2014.
- Scaphoid fracture of the wrist. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00012 . Accessed April 22, 2014.
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- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00412. Accessed April 22, 2014.
- Hand fractures. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00010. Accessed April 22, 2014.
- Bone health. National Institute for Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Bone_Health/default.asp. Accessed April 22, 2014.