At Slocum Center for Orthopedics & Sports Medicine, our orthopedic surgeons specialize in fracture care. In fact, the Slocum Center has been performing orthopedic surgery, such as fracture repair of the wrist, for more than four decades. Our wrist surgeons have helped hundreds of Eugene-area patients each year regain strength, flexibility, and function through their dedication and continuous research.
When someone falls on an outstretched hand, the result may be a broken wrist. It can also happen in a car accident, a bike accident, a skiing accident, and similar situations. A broken wrist usually causes pain and swelling.
Many wrist fractures in people over 60 are due to osteoporosis (decreased density of the bones). Fractures can happen in healthy bones if the trauma is severe enough (for example, a car accident, or a fall off a bike).
The best prevention is to maintain good bone health. Older patients who have problems keeping their balance need special attention to prevent falls. Wrist guards worn on the forearms may help to prevent some fractures.
Many treatment choices exist, depending on the nature of the fracture, the age and activity level of the person and the X-ray alignment of the fracture. If the bone is in a good position, a physician may apply a cast until the bone heals. If the alignment of the bone is not good and could limit the use of the arm, surgery may be recommended to realign the bone. This may be done without making an incision. After the bone is properly aligned, a splint or cast may be placed on the arm to hold the bone in place during healing. The cast is removed four to six weeks after the surgery. At that point, physical therapy often helps improve wrist motion and function.
If the position of the bone is not acceptable for the future function of the arm, a different operation may be necessary. The bone may be held in a corrected position with metal pins, a plate with screws, an external fixator, or a combination of these. An external fixator is a set of metal bars outside the body attached to pins, which are placed in the bone above and below the fracture site, in effect keeping it in traction until the bone heals.