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Wrist Fracture

A wrist fracture, also known as a broken wrist, is a traumatic injury to the wrist.

What is a wrist fracture?

A wrist fracture is a break or crack in one or multiple bones in the wrist.

Bones are made of calcium phosphate and collagen, and have different densities depending on how old you are. While bones are designed to take weight, if too much force is put onto them, a fracture can occur.

When a bone is fractured, it becomes less stable and you may not be able to put weight on it or move it. This can impact your daily life, and should be addressed as soon as possible, or else the fracture can become more severe and the recovery period can be longer.

What are the symptoms of a wrist fracture?

If you have a wrist fracture, you might experience:

  • Sensitivity or tenderness
  • Bruising
  • Swelling
  • Intense pain – this pain might become worse when you move your hand/wrist or attempt to hold or squeeze something
  • Deformity (i.e. your wrist may appear bent)
  • Difficulty or inability to move your wrist or arm
  • Tingling or numbness

What causes a wrist fracture?

A wrist fracture can be caused in a variety of ways, most often from a direct blow.

For example:

  • A fall (this is usually the most common cause)
  • A car accident
  • Direct contact in sport

How is a wrist fracture diagnosed?

If you have been experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, you should go to your consultant or A&E, who will do a visual inspection and take X-rays to determine whether any bones in your wrist are broken.

If your consultant deems it best, they might order you to have an MRI or CT scan, which are more sensitive and can pick up small fractures or tissue damage that an X-ray can’t.

They will then decide what treatment options will be best for you

How is a wrist fracture treated?

Depending on the severity of your fracture, the wrist may be able to be treated without surgical intervention. Because it is important to limit the movement in the wrist while the bones are healing, you will probably be provided with a splint or a cast after the bone has been set.

If the break is more severe or complex, you might need to undergo surgery and have a bone graft in order for the bones to heal correctly.

Surgery might be needed if you have:

  • A fracture extending into a joint
  • An open fracture (a broken bone that has punctured the skin)
  • Multiple broken bones or if a bone is completely crushed
  • Bone pieces that have moved
  • Bone fragments that have loosened and are at risk of entering a joint

If you’re unsure what treatment you should go for, or the above treatments don’t work for you, our team of expert specialists are here to help.

This content has been checked and approved by

Mr Graham Lawton  ›

Mr Lawton is a consultant plastic reconstructive and hand surgeon at King Edward VII’s Hospital with special interests and expertise in extremity reconstruction after trauma, hand surgery and peripheral nerve injury.

Find your specialist for wrist fractures at King Edward VII's Hospital

If you suspect you have a wrist fracture and you’re seeking an expert opinion, you can find the UK’s leading hand specialists here at King Edward VII’s Hospital. Our consultants are hand-picked for you, making it easy to access the best possible care.

Mr Shehan Hettiaratchy  ›
Special interests include:
Trauma (+ 6) more
Mr Graham Lawton  ›
Special interests include:
Mallet finger (+ 5) more
Mr Rupert Wharton  ›
Special interests include:
Trauma & Orthopaedic surgery (+ 10) more

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