How Long Does a Fractured Wrist Take to Heal?

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The wrist is made up of the radius and the ulna plus eight carpal bones. Many of the ligaments connect the bones to each other. A fracture occurs when there is a break or crack in one or more of the bones. Wrist fractures have different healing times and vary based on the type of break and the severity. Recovery also depends on the treatment options implemented.

Treatment

  • Fractures are casted or splinted so the injured part can remain at rest and avoid movement. This way the pieces can heal properly. Medications to reduce inflammation and pain may be prescribed. Over-the-counter pain relievers may be recommended by your physician unless there is severe pain. If the pain is severe enough, an opioid such as codeine may be prescribed.

Casts

  • A cast keeps the bone from moving so it can heal. Be sure to keep the cast dry. After the cast is removed, rehabilitation exercise or physical therapy may be needed to reduce stiffness and restore movement. It is important to elevate the injured wrist to prevent swelling. Apply ice to reduce swelling and exercise your fingers if you can without it causing pain.

Surgery

  • Recovering from surgery may take several months, depending on the sort of surgery performed on the wrist. The surgeon may need to implant plates, rods or screws in order to maintain a proper position during healing. It is important to maintain immobility of the wrist until clearance for physical therapy is approved by your physician. Medications may be prescribed to reduce pain and the chance for infection. Keep the extremity elevated, at least for the first few days after surgery.

Stimulation

  • During electrical stimulation, two electrodes are placed on the sides of the fractured bone and act as the source of electrical currents. By stimulating the bone cells, the healing of the bone is accelerated. This process is called capacitive coupling.

    Another type that is used is pulsed electromagnetic field technology or PEMF. A coil is placed directly over the skin or into the cast. The coil produces a pulsating electromagnetic field around the fracture that encourages healing of the bone.

Outlook

  • Complications such as deformity, if not set right, delayed healing or infection can occur in some cases. There may be ongoing aching, stiffness or disability in the affected area. This usually recedes in a few months after surgery or after the cast is removed. Recovery can take up to several months or even longer to completely heal. But some injuries may be permanent.

References

  • Photo Credit "My Famous Tattoo" is Copyrighted by Flickr user: powerbooktrance (Terry Johnston) under the Creative Commons Attribution license.
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