A wrist fracture occurs when one of the eight bones in the wrist cracks. It is possible to have a wrist fracture and not realize it because you may be able to move your wrist.
You may notice sudden pain, bruising, visible deformities and swelling. Sometimes a wrist fracture may cause limited motion in the wrist, hands, thumb or fingers.
Most wrist fractures are caused by falling onto an outstretched hand, but violence, sports injuries and other accidents may also cause them. Regardless of the cause and ability to move the wrist, if it is fractured you should immobilize it using a splint to avoid further injury.
Osteoporosis, poor nutrition, participation in sports, advanced age, being postmenopausal, and decreased muscle mass increase your risk of a wrist fracture. A fracture in a weakened bone may result in your hand hanging limp without movement possible.
Diagnosis usually involves a physical exam, demonstrating the ability to move the wrist if possible, a set of x-rays and a discussion on how the injury occurred. In a limited number of cases, your doctor may order CT scans or MRIs.
Generally, a cast or splint is used to keep the area immobile and allow the wrist to heal. A severe wrist fracture may require surgery to repair the bone.