QUESTION: A 51 year old female office worker tripped over at home and landed on her hand, sustaining a broken wrist. It is swollen and painful. What should she do?
What is it?
A Distal Radius Fracture is a fracture of the end of the radius near the wrist, and is commonly referred to as a broken wrist. It mainly occurs when you fall on an outstretched hand.
An undisplaced or mildly displaced fracture can be managed by a hand therapist. Different immobilisation options are available including a waterproof fibreglass cast, EXOS brace and thermoplastic splint. Your therapist will determine the appropriate for of immobilisation for you depending on the severity of the fracture, amount of swelling and whether the fracture is being managed non-operatively or after surgery. You will also be provided with:
- Education about appropriate care of your swollen hand
- Provision of a splint suited to your needs
- Exercises to non-involved joints
- Graded strengthening and proprioceptive exercises when appropriate
Surgical review may be required if there is multiple fragments or any displacement. Your therapist will be happy to discuss with you and your GP whether referral to a hand surgeon is appropriate.