The wrist is the most commonly fractured part of the upper limbs of the human body. The wrist is actually a composite of multiple little bones that move in concert (articulate) with each other, and have various connections with the long bones of the hand and the two long bones of the forearm, all of which connect together with various ligaments. The normal range of motion of the wrist is amazing. Not only can a person normally rotate the wrist on the long axis of the forearm (a function of the forearm, not the wrist bones), but one can flex and extend the wrist through a large number of degrees. To a lesser extent, the wrist can be moved a few degrees side-to-side. When all of these movements are combined, we have the staggering array of movements of the wrist, which works in concert with bones of the hand and fingers to enable humans to perform an artistic range of coordinated movements. The wrist is most commonly broken when one falls with an outstretched hand.
Skateboarders, bicyclists, drivers of automobiles and motorcycle accidents may all sustain this injury. In the latter case, the steering wheel provides the force to fracture the wrist, especially in frontal collisions. The most common fractures are those to the ends of the long bones of the forearm, where they attach to the wrist. The small wrist bones are much less commonly fractured (about 10%), but these fractures may easily cause long-term disability. One bone, in particular, the scaphoid, may actually lose its blood supply and partially disintegrate, if a fracture is not properly identified in the emergency department.
Needless to say, prevention of the wrist fractures is the best course, and is easy to achieve, in most cases, especially in children and young adults. Metal or plastic wrist guards are commercially available for all sorts of sports, especially skaters and skate-boarders, who fall with alarming frequency. Bicycles tend to zap this area of the body, since the fall is typically from several feet up, and all the weight of the body is focused on one or both wrists.
Wrist Fractures Diagnosis and Treatment
Usually, simple X-rays of the wrist are sufficient to identify wrist fractures, but occasionally a follow-up CAT scan will identify wrist bone fractures not initially detected. In many cases, manipulating the bone fragments into a good position, splinting, and later casting of the bones in a reasonably normal position is sufficient to let the body heal properly, with complete, or nearly complete, recovery of normal function. In those cases where the little wrist bones are crushed, the outlook is less favorable, and may well result in a serious limitation of normal function of the wrist and hand. Not only that, but there are some big arteries and nerves that run through little tunnels in the wrist. If a fracture causes pressure on either of these, nerve damage or muscle/skin damage may occur in the hand or fingers, an ominous development, indeed. Failure to identify a scaphoid (navicular) wrist bone fracture is a frequent medico-legal problem for physicians. Good physical therapy is often the factor that determines the degree of long-term recovery. Both ranges of wrist movement and strength of the associated muscles are commonly dramatically improved with good, intensive physical therapy.
Contact a Lawyer About Your Wrist Fracture
If you have suffered a wrist fracture as a result of a car accident or negligence of others, Parker Scheer recommends that you consult with a personal injury lawyer and evaluate your case. For your free confidential case review click here and receive a response from one of our attorneys within hours. If you prefer, you can also telephone our offices in Boston seven days a week at toll-free.