A broken wrist is a common injury, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. The most common bone to break in your wrist is the distal radius, the large bone in your forearm. You can also break the scaphoid, the bone that is located at the bottom of your thumb. Medical assessment and imaging tests can definitely diagnose a broken wrist, but learning about symptoms you might encounter can help you tell if your injury is a break or a sprain.
Assess the intensity of the pain in your wrist and hand. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), breaking your distal radius will cause acute pain in your wrist and arm immediately after the injury. If you have broken the scaphoid bone, your thumb will hurt, especially when you hold on to something with the affected hand. Unlike a sprain, the pain of a broken wrist does not go away if left untreated.
Check your wrist for swelling and bruising. People who sustain broken bones may experience both of these symptoms, especially if they used their arm to break a fall.
Examine the position of your hand and wrist after you have sustained your injury. You most likely have a broken wrist if you cannot hold your arm in a normal position. The Mayo Clinic states that "deformity" of the joint indicates a fracture of the wrist.
Recognize symptoms of a broken wrist that may not be obvious. Some people who have a wrist fracture experience altered sensation in their fingers in addition to the pain. Numbness and having cold fingers can be signs of a bone break.
Get X-rays taken of your wrist. Imaging studies are the definitive way to tell if you have a broken wrist.