What is a wrist/hand fracture?

Also known as: broken wrist, broken hand

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.


Reviewed by: Aaron J Berger, MD

This page was last updated on: 1/29/2019 3:21:13 PM

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