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A Simple Overview of Different Types of Wrist Fractures

an overview of the different types of wrist fracturesBecause the wrist is such a complex joint, there are many different types of wrist fractures. The wrist consists of eight small bones, which connect to the ends of the forearm bones. Any one of these ten bones can be broken. For the wrist to function correctly, these bones must all fit together properly and work in tandem.

In this blog, the wrist fracture specialists at Mirza Orthopedics will explain the different types of wrist fractures, their common causes and how a broken wrist is treated.

What are the common causes of broken wrists?

There are a great number of potential causes of wrist fractures. Winter is a particularly risky time; falling onto an outstretched hand is one of the most common causes of a broken wrist and slippery winter conditions make falls more likely. Winter sports such as skiing and ice-skating also have high incidences of wrist fractures.

Other common causes of broken wrists include:

  • A direct blow to the wrist
  • Falls or impact injuries during sports
  • Automobile accidents
  • Falling from a height

Older patients, especially those with osteoporosis, are more susceptible to wrist fractures. Those with osteoporosis may break bones in their wrists by simply falling from a standing position.

What are the different types of wrist fractures that can occur?

Wrist fractures are categorized both by what bones they affect and how the bones break. Types of wrist fractures include the following.

Distal radius fracture – this type of wrist fracture happens when the distal end of the radius (the forearm bone on the inner side of your arm) nearest to your hand breaks.

Colles fracture – this is a type of distal radius fracture in which the broken part of the radius tilts upward. This is usually caused by an impact to the wrist while it is extended.

Smith’s fracture – this is another type of distal radius fracture. In this case, the bone breaks while the wrist is in a flexed position.

Barton’s fracture – this is a fracture that occurs in conjunction with a dislocation of the radiocarpal joint, the joint where the radius meets the carpal (wrist) bones.

Distal ulna fracture – this type of fracture involves breaks in both bones of the forearm at the ends nearest your hand.

Scaphoid fracture – a fracture that involves the scaphoid bone, one of the eight small bones that make up the carpal bones of the wrist.

Chauffeur’s fracture – a fracture involving the radial styloid bone, another one of the small bones of the wrist. It is usually due to a hard blow to the back of the wrist.

Greenstick fracture – in this type of wrist fracture, which occurs only in children, one side of the bone is broken but the other side is only bent.

Ulnar styloid fracture – a type of wrist fracture that may occur in conjunction with a distal radius fracture.

There are also variations on the types of wrist fractures listed above, depending on how many pieces the bone breaks into and whether or not it punctures the skin.

How are wrist fractures treated?

Before determining the best treatment, it’s crucial to know whether a fracture is “stable” or “unstable.” For some patients with a stable fracture, conservative treatments such as repositioning the bone—also known as a “closed reduction”—and immobilizing the arm with a cast or splint may be the best approach. This treatment is usually combined with anti-inflammatory medication and followed by a physical therapy program.

Wrist fractures that are more complex or “unstable” may require surgery to ensure proper healing. In unstable fractures, the bones are likely to shift out of place before they heal solidly, even if they are repositioned. This can cause the wrist to heal in a crooked fashion.

Depending on the type of wrist fracture you’ve sustained, Mirza Orthopedics’ Long Island wrist specialists will determine the best approach for your needs. Our practice offers a cutting-edge device called the CPX fixator, which can be used to set a broken distal radius and offers faster recovery times and earlier mobilization of the wrist.

Looking for treatment for a wrist fracture in Long Island?

At Mirza Orthopedics, we diagnose and treat patients of all ages with all types of wrist fractures. Proper setting and treatment are essential to ensuring successful healing and a pain-free return to normal activities. Schedule an appointment with the experienced wrist specialists at Mirza Orthopedics today to learn more about the treatment options for all types of wrist fractures.

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