Wrist/Hand Fracture

Also known as: broken wrist, broken hand

What is a wrist/hand fracture?

The hand has a total of 19 small bones that create the framework for a functioning hand.  The wrist is made up of 8 small bones. The forearm is composed of two long bones, known as the ulna and radius. While any of these bones may fracture (also known as a break in the bone), some bone are more commonly fractured than others. The scaphoid bone is the most commonly fractured bone in the wrist.  Fractures of the radius are also common.

There are many types of wrist and hand fractures. Non-displaced fractures (also known as cracks in the bone) can usually be treated with a cast or splint, while displaced and unstable fractures may require surgery to hold the bones in position until a cast is placed. Non-displaced fractures involve bones that are still in alignment, while displaced fractures may need “reduction” or “setting” to put the bones in the proper position before further treatment. A fracture that involves just one break is known as a simple fracture. A comminuted fracture refers to a break that shatters the bone into many pieces. Finally, an open fracture is one that breaks the skin.


What causes wrist/hand fracture?

Sports injuries, motor vehicle crashes and falls are three of the most common causes of wrist/hand fractures.

What are the symptoms of wrist/hand fracture?

Pain, swelling, tenderness, bruising, numbness, difficulty moving the hand or wrist or an obvious deformity of the hand or wrist are all potential symptoms of a wrist/hand fracture.

What are wrist/hand fracture care options?

Many wrist/hand fractures can be immobilized with a splint or cast while they heal. Medication can help manage pain during this process. Surgery may be required for more severe injuries.


Reviewed by: Aaron J Berger, MD

This page was last updated on: 6/21/2018 9:44:56 AM

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