How To Identify A Broken Wrist

April 14th, 2020 Becki Andrus

The Anatomy Of Your Wrist

You depend upon your wrist joint to assist in the process of allowing a full range of movement with your hands. It also supplies your source of strength whenever you attempt to grip an object while also providing you with the flexibility to type on your phone and your computer.

Your wrist is capable of performing these tasks through the coordination of bones, ligaments, tendons, muscles, nerves and blood vessels that all comprise this joint.

Your wrist also forms a connection between your forearm and your hand. It contains two large bones that originate in the forearm, and they are referred to as the radius and the ulna. There are also eight smaller bones that are referred to as the carpal bones.

Causes Of Wrist Pain

There are multiple reasons why you might experience pain in your wrist. Some of these sources of discomfort are more serious in nature than others.

  • Tendonitis – this develops due to inflammation of one or more tendons that are located in your wrist
  • Carpal tunnel syndromethis occurs if the median nerve that progresses from your arm to your wrist (carpal tunnel) becomes compressed due to swelling
  • Osteoarthritis – this inflammation emerges due to the degeneration of the cartilage in your joint. This usually develops from overall wear and tear in your joint
  • Rheumatoid arthritis – this takes place if your immune system attacks the cartilage or ligaments of your wrist
  • Gout – this occurs when uric acid builds up in your joint. This condition is most prevalent in the big toe but can emerge in the wrist
  • Bursitis – if the bursa sacs that lubricate your bones, muscles, and tendons become inflamed, then it can lead to this condition
  • Sprain – this pain develops when a sudden movement or impact forces the ligaments of your wrist to extend beyond their normal range  

Understanding Broken Wrists

In addition to the potential causes of wrist pain that have been listed, there are also situations in which you can experience a broken wrist. This can also be referred to as a fracture, and it occurs if you develop a crack or break in one of the bones that are located in your wrist.

This takes place most frequently when an individual is falling and attempts to cushion the landing with an outstretched hand.

Among the risk factors that also increase the prospects of contending with a broken wrist is a condition that is referred to as osteoporosis. This occurs if your bones have become fragile due to a lowered level of bone mass.

Participation in sports or recreational activities is beneficial to your health in various ways. However, it also increases the possibility that you will incur injury. This includes the potential of breaking your wrist.

The sports in which there is an increased risk of encountering a fractured wrist include football, rugby, hockey, skiing, snowboarding, and horseback riding. However, the potential for this to transpire can be reduced through the use of wrist guards, which will safeguard your wrist from injury during these activities.

A significant impact that takes place during situations such as a vehicle collision can also result in a fractured wrist.

Symptoms Of A Broken Wrist

There are multiple symptoms that will provide you with an indication that you have broken your wrist. These include:

  • Significant pain in your hand or wrist
  • Pain that increases when you attempt to grip or squeeze an object
  • Pain that intensifies when your attempt to move your wrist
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness
  • Bruising
  • A deformity of the wrist
  • A bone protruding through the skin

Different Types Of Broken Wrists

That are also multiple types of breaks that can emerge with your wrist. These forms of fractures are:

Simple – this involves a broken bone that remains aligned normally

Complex – this type of break occurs if a bone has been altered from its normal alignment

Comminuted – this form of fracture will involve more than one broken bone

Compound – a compound fracture will result in a bone that protrudes through the skin

When To Visit A Physician

If you believe that you have experienced a fractured wrist, then it is critical that you seek immediate medical attention. This will increase the likelihood that your bones will heal properly.

Any delay in treatment fo a broken wrist will elevate the risk that your wrist will not heal in its original alignment. That, in turn, could diminish your range of motion, while also impacting your ability to grip objects.

When you visit a doctor, he or she will ask a series of questions concerning any type of event that might have caused your wrist pain, or any other topic that is related to your symptoms.

Your physician will also conduct a physical examination. This might include the use of x-rays, CT scans, or MRIs that will help finalize a diagnosis.


Your specific treatment will be determined by the severity of your fracture, and any other details surrounding your broken wrist. Your overall health can also affect the source of treatment.

In some cases, the use of a splint or a cast will be necessary. The splint might be used for nearly a week, while the cast might be necessary for 6-8 weeks. However, the amount of time that is involved with recovery will depend upon the type of break that was experienced.

If the bones are not lining up properly, then surgery will be recommended as the most effective form of treatment. The recovery time will vary based upon the severity of the original break, with some cases involving a period of six months.

At Orthopedic Associates, We Can Help

If you have any questions or concerns about the possibility that you are contending with a broken wrist, or if you need to talk with an experienced hand doctor about any other issue, the specialists at Orthopedic Associates understand how pain in your hand or wrist can affect your daily activities.

At Orthopedic Associates, we are also dedicated to making sure that you recover fully so that you can return to depending on your hand and wrist as you did previously.

Our team of physicians contains specialists for every condition that you might encounter.  That includes hand doctor Kent F. Dickson, M.D, who is committed to providing effective, compassionate, and timely care.

His expertise in educating our patients on how they can avoid future problems is also beneficial.

Here is the list of hand and wrist problems that we can help you with at Orthopedic Associates:

  • Animal Bites to the Hand
  • Basal Joint Osteoarthritis
  • Boutonniere Deformity
  • Boxer’s Fracture
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Colles Fractures
  • Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)
  • De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis
  • Digital Mucous Cysts
  • Distal Radius Fracture (Broken Wrist)
  • Dupuytren’s Disease
  • Finger Dislocation/Felon
  • Fingertip Injuries
  • Flexor Tendon Injuries
  • Fractures of the Finger/Hand (Metacarpal Fractures)
  • Ganglion Cysts of the Hand
  • Kienbock’s Disease
  • Mallet Finger
  • Nerve Injuries of the Hand
  • Osteoarthritis of the Hand
  • Osteomyelitis
  • Paronychia
  • Polydactyly of the Hand
  • Raynaud’s Phenomenon and Disease
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) of the Hand
  • Scaphoid Fractures
  • Swan Neck Deformity
  • Syndactyly of the Hand
  • Thumb Ulnar Collateral Ligament (UCL) Injury
  • Triangular Fibrocartilage Complex (TFCC) Tears
  • Trigger Digit
  • Volar Plate Injuries
  • Wrist Sprain

Our orthopedic experts are also highly experienced in performing many different treatments and surgeries for the hand & wrist:

  • About Surgery of the Hand
  • Absorbable Antibiotic Bead Treatment for Osteomyelitis
  • Anesthesia
  • Anesthesia (Regional)
  • Artificial Joint Replacement of the Finger
  • Basal Joint Surgery
  • Biologics Treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Carpal Tunnel Release (Open Technique)
  • Cold Laser Therapy
  • Computed Tomography (CT) Scan
  • De Quervain’s Release
  • Digital Mucous Cyst Excision
  • Digital Nerve Repair
  • Distal Radius Fracture Repair with Volar Plate
  • Electromyography (EMG)
  • Endoscopic Carpal Tunnel Release
  • Finger Felon Drainage
  • Finger Fracture Fixation
  • Finger Joint Fusion (DIP Joint)
  • Ganglion Cyst Removal
  • Joint Synovectomy
  • Limited Palmar Fasciectomy for Dupuytren’s Contracture
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
  • Multimodal Anesthesia and Pain Control
  • Needle Aponeurotomy for Dupuytren’s Contracture
  • Nerve Conduction Study (NCS)
  • Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Scan
  • Scaphoid Fracture Open Reduction and Internal Fixation (ORIF)
  • Tendon Repair
  • Trigger Digit Release
  • Wrist Arthroscopy
  • Wrist Fusion (Total Wrist Arthrodesis)

If you are experiencing a problem with your hand or wrist, we encourage you to visit one of the Orthopedic Associates’ two locations or request an appointment today. We will help guide you down the path of feeling better.

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