You have a break of the end part of your radius bone near the wrist joint. These injuries usually heal well in either a splint or a plaster cast. You will need to be in a splint or cast for 4 to 6 weeks. After this your wrist will feel stiff and weaker. At this point it is important to start to exercise your wrist to get the movement back.
What should I expect and what can I do to help my hand to heal?
You should be seen in the minor injuries unit or the emergency department if you think you have hurt your wrist to have an x-ray. A wrist fracture you is a common injury, most commonly it is the radius bone that is broken.
If your bones have broken and are not in a good enough position you may need a small procedure to reset the broken bone. This is called a manipulation. This can usually be done in the emergency department. It is commonly done under local anaesthetic (injection to take away pain), gas and air (pain relief), or sedation (medicine to make you sleepy and relieve pain).
1 -2 weeks after your injury you will be seen in the fracture clinic and an x-ray will be taken. This is to check the bones are still in a good position. If the bones loose position you may need an operation.
Initially your wrist will be painful. You should take simple pain killers if you are in pain. You should lift your arm higher than your heart to control the swelling, i.e. to shoulder level.
You must move your fingers as soon as possible even if this means overcoming the discomfort.
If you are given a sling you can stop using this once things become more comfortable (after a couple of days). Take your arm out of the sling several times a day to bend and straighten your elbow, and move your shoulder.
Do not lift anything heavy for six to eight weeks. It may take several months for the wrist to feel normal again.
As the bone heals a lump may form at the break site.
If you notice that your cast is too tight and the feeling does not improve with raising your arm above the level of your heart you should report this to your hospitals fracture clinic or accident and emergency / minor injuries unit.
To help circulation, reduce swelling and to maintain the movement of the fingers regularly open and close your hand.
This exercise might aid in maintaining the mobility of the affected limb. Perform this exercise within your pain limitations and do not force your joint through the movement.
When can I drive / work?
You are not safe to drive whilst in a cast or splint. Once out of the cast or splint you will be safe to drive when you can perform an emergency swerve. This will be 6-8 weeks following the injury.
You may return to office based work once you are comfortable. This is usually with a couple of days of the injury. Return to manual / heavy work will be 8 – 12 weeks once the wrist feels stronger and back to normal.
What should I do when I come out of the plaster / splint?
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Contacts / Further information
For any queries in relation to your injury or for further advise please contact your local Emergency department minor injuries or contact the NHS service on 111.