Wrist Fracture Orthopedic Treatment & Surgery

We think of our wrists as simple joints. However, the wrist encompasses a complex of eight bones – the scaphoid, lunate, triquetrum, pisiform, trapezium, trapezoid, capitate, and hamate. In other words, the wrist is an intricate and sometimes fragile system, but one that we use for a myriad of different everyday tasks! A fractured wrist can have serious consequences in day-to-day life, and because the wrist consists of so many small bones working together, they all need to be in the proper position for a fracture to heal correctly.

While some wrist fractures can be fixed simply by having a cast applied and waiting for the bones to mend naturally, others may require surgery. In either case, orthopedic treatment is a vital part of the healing process, and helps immensely with regaining function and getting back to daily tasks – you can trust Seaview Orthopaedic & Medical Associates and our expertise in wrist injury treatment. Contact us today for more information, schedule your orthopedic wrist appointment, or learn more below.

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Types of Wrist Fractures

Wrist fractures are classified according to which bones are broken, in which section of the bone, and in which direction. The most commonly fractured bone in the wrist is the radius – the outermost of the forearm bones. However, the ulna (the inner forearm bone) can also be broken at the same time.

What is a Distal Radius Fracture?

A distal radius fracture is a break in the radius near the wrist joint. Distal radius fractures are an umbrella term for most of what can be called “wrist fractures” simply because, as noted, the radius is the bone within the wrist that is broken most often. A simple distal radius fracture is the most common type of broken bone in children and often occurs in adults, particularly elderly people, as well. Symptoms usually include severe pain and swelling on and around the whole wrist, and there is sometimes visible deformation. Ordinary distal radius fractures are most often treated with casting.

What is a Colles’s Fracture?

Colles’s fracture is a distal radius fracture where the end of the radius is bent backwards at the point of the break. The most usual cause of Colles’s fracture is falling onto one’s hand or wrist on a particular angle and most commonly occurs in both young adults and senior citizens. A characteristic sign of Colles’s fracture is the so-called “bayonet” or “dinner fork” deformity, in which the outside edge of the wrist can be seen to bulge outwards. Colles’s fracture can result in damage to the median nerve, leading to numbness and potentially paralysis.

What is a Smith’s Fracture?

In contrast to the more common Colles’s fracture, in a Smith’s fracture the broken end of the radius is forced inward, toward the ulna. Therefore, one major physical sign is the “garden spade” deformity, which appears to go in the opposite direction of the visible deformity associated with Colles’s fracture. In cases of Smith’s fracture, the way in which the broken radius is bent can risk the ends of the bone not properly rejoining during healing, a symptom called malunion, which can permanently lessen mobility. People who undergo Smith’s fractures also have higher risks of carpal tunnel syndrome and osteoarthritis.

What is a Scaphoid Fracture?

In contrast to the different types of distal radius fractures, a scaphoid fracture is a break of one of the carpal bones – a small, cashew-shaped bone on the thumb side of the wrist. The scaphoid bone is part of the anatomical snuffbox – the “trench” behind the thumb – and tenderness and pain in this area, as well as inability to use the thumb, are typical symptoms of a scaphoid fracture. Severe complications can include arthritis as well as avascular necrosis, or tissue death due to a lack of blood supply.

Treatments for Wrist Fractures and Traumatic Injuries

While some wrist fractures are mild, others require surgery and cannot heal naturally. Wrist surgery is common, well-tolerated for most patients, and is vital for many people with a distal radius fracture or other broken wrist bone to regain full hand and arm function and get back to normal.

When is Surgery Needed for a Distal Radius Fracture?

Typically, people who fracture their radius and experience displacement (one end of the bone not aligning with the other), unstable alignment of the bone, or an injury that also involves small bones or the ulna may require surgery. The surgical treatment will put the bone back into alignment for optimal healing and keep it stable using an appropriate method, such as pinning the broken ends into place.

When is Surgery Needed for a Scaphoid Fracture?

Typically, people who fracture their radius and experience displacement (one end of the bone not aligning with the other), unstable alignment of the bone, or an injury that also involves small bones or the ulna may require surgery. The surgical treatment will put the bone back into alignment for optimal healing and keep it stable using an appropriate method, such as pinning the broken ends into place.

Who Specializes in Wrist Fracture Surgery, and Where Are They Located?

If you injure your wrist and are diagnosed with a fracture in urgent care or a hospital emergency room, your wrist will be placed in a splint or cast and you may be recommended to see an orthopedic surgeon. While you’re free to make your own health decision, if you do choose to undergo wrist surgery, it’s vital to select a provider with a high level expertise in hand and wrist operations. At Seaview Orthopaedics, we can get you a timely appointment with an orthopedic surgeon who has extensive experience in repairing this anatomical area.

Seaview Orthopaedics is one of New Jersey’s top providers for wrist injury treatment, including surgery and other orthopedic care. We have locations in Barnegat, Brick, Freehold, Holmdel, Monroe, and Ocean, and our dedicated wrist physicians specialize in helping you have a pain-free and usable wrist as quickly and easily as possible. Schedule a consultation today or contact us to learn more.

Schedule An Appointment with Our Orthopedic Wrist Surgeons