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Wrist Fracture: Teen Version

What is a wrist fracture?

There are 8 bones in the wrist. They attach to the bones in the forearm and the bones in the hand. When you break your wrist, you may have cracked or broken one or more of these wrist bones or the ends of the forearm bones that connect with the wrist bones.

What is the cause?

The usual causes of a wrist fracture are:

  • a fall
  • a direct hit to the wrist

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms may include:

  • pain, swelling, bruising, or tenderness
  • trouble moving the wrist

How is it diagnosed?

Your provider will ask about your symptoms and how the injury happened. He or she will examine you. You will have X-rays of your wrist.

How is it treated?

The treatment depends on the type of fracture. If the broken bone is crooked, your healthcare provider will straighten it. You will be given medicine first so the straightening is not painful. Sometimes surgery is needed to put the bones back into the correct position.

The wrist may need to be set in a splint or cast to keep it from moving while it heals.

How can I take care of myself?

Follow the full course of treatment your healthcare provider prescribes. Also:

  • To keep swelling down and help relieve pain, your healthcare provider may tell you to:
    • Put an ice pack, gel pack, or package of frozen vegetables wrapped in a cloth on the injured area every 3 to 4 hours for up to 20 minutes at a time for the first day or two after the injury.
    • Keep the injured wrist up on pillows when you sit or lie down.
    • Take pain medicine, such as ibuprofen, as directed by your provider. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, may cause stomach bleeding and other problems. These risks increase with age. Read the label and take as directed. Unless recommended by your healthcare provider, do not take for more than 10 days.
  • If you have a cast, make sure the cast does not get wet. Cover the cast with plastic when you bathe. Avoid scratching the skin around the cast or poking things down the cast. This could cause an infection.

When your wrist has been in a splint or cast, your joints may get stiff and your muscles get weaker. After the splint or cast is removed, your healthcare provider or physical therapist may recommend exercises to help the wrist get stronger and more flexible. Follow your provider’s instructions for doing exercises.

Keep all appointments for provider visits or tests. Call your healthcare provider right away if:

  • You have more pain, redness, warmth, or swelling.
  • You have a fever.
  • You have a loss of feeling in the injured area.
  • The injured area looks pale or blue or feels cold.

How long will the effects last?

Wrist fractures may take 6 to 12 weeks or longer to heal.

How can I prevent a wrist fracture?

Most wrist fractures are caused by accidents that are not easy to prevent. When you do activities like rollerblading, be sure to wear protective wrist guards.

Written by Pierre Rouzier, MD.
Pediatric Advisor 2012.2 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2012-01-30
Last reviewed: 2012-01-02
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2012 RelayHealth and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.
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