The wrist is made up of eight small bones and the two forearm bones, the radius and ulna. The shape of the bones allows the wrist to bend and straighten, move side-to-side, and rotate, as in twisting the palm up or down. A fracture may occur in any of these bones when enough force is applied, such as when falling down onto an outstretched hand. Severe injuries may occur from a more forceful injury, such as a car accident or a fall off a roof or ladder. The most commonly broken bone of the wrist is the radius. When the wrist is broken, there is pain, swelling, and decreased use of the hand and wrist.
The pattern of the fracture, whether it is displaced or non-displaced, stable or unstable are all factors in determining the treatment. Other important considerations include your age, overall health, hand dominance, work and leisure activities, the presence of any prior injury or arthritis, and any associated injuries.
A splint or cast may be used to treat a fracture that is not displaced, or to protect a fracture that has been set. Other fractures may need surgery to properly set the bone and to stabilize it. Fractures may be stabilized with pins, screws, plates, rods, or external fixation. Dr Goldberg will determine as to which treatment is the most appropriate in your individual case.
On occasion, bone may be missing or may be so severely crushed that there is a gap in the bone once it has been realigned. In such cases, a bone graft may be necessary. In this procedure, bone is usually taken from the hip to help fill in the defect. Bone from a bone bank or synthetic bone graft substitutes may also be used.