January 01, 2015

Wrist fracture

Is surgery right for you?

Wrist fracture

In the minds of many people, treatment of a broken wrist is straightforward — the doctor makes sure the fracture is set properly, you wear a cast for several weeks, the bone heals, and all is well.

This may be true with a simple wrist fracture where the bone remains in position and is stable. However, treatment decisions quickly become more complicated with a displaced or more complex fracture — or with a fracture that isn't stable.

In short, a wrist fracture is a widely variable injury with a very individualized approach to treatment that takes into account many factors such as the characteristics of the fracture, your overall health, and your occupation and lifestyle.

Breaking point

The wrist is made up of eight small bones at the base of your hand and the two bones of your forearm — the radius and ulna — that connect the elbow to the wrist bones. Any one of these bones can be fractured. However, the radius — the larger of the two forearm bones — is the most commonly broken bone of the wrist. When people talk about a broken wrist, they're generally referring to a radius fracture. The scaphoid bone on the thumb side of the wrist is the most commonly fractured of the smaller wrist bones.

Wrist fractures almost always occur from some sort of trauma. The most common injury is simply falling onto an outstretched hand. In addition, sports and activity injuries such as falling off a bicycle...