How Is It Done?
Depending on the type of fracture involved, your age, and your activity level, there are many treatment options for a distal radius fracture. If the broken portion of bone is in a good resting position, doctors will typically apply a plaster cast to hold the bone in place until it heals. In fractures where broken bone fragments are slightly out of alignment, doctors may use a non-surgical technique known as reduction to re-align the broken bone before applying a cast. Casts are commonly removed after 6 weeks when patients begin physical therapy. Prior to treatment, your wrist is protected with a splint and an ice pack is applied immediately. During diagnosis, doctors will confirm the classification of your specific break through X-ray and then make an appropriate treatment suggestion.
Surgery becomes a necessity when bone fragments are so far out of place that corrections cannot be maintained in a cast. The surgical procedure involves an incision that allows direct access to the broken portion of bone. Upon repositioning the fracture, metal plates, pins, and screws are often used to hold the bone in a correct position while it heals. When dealing with Open fractures, surgery is required within 8 hours of the injury. Prior to realigning the fracture, exposed tissue and bone is thoroughly cleaned and antibiotics are provided to help avoid infection.
Most patients return to any and all former activities following a distal radius fracture, but each fracture is unique and carries its own recovery timetable. Wrist stiffness is common following surgery, and will generally loosen within a few months. Physical therapy can help expedite the recovery process, but most patients are able to comfortably return to all types of activities within 3 to 6-months.